Belarus denies sales of S-300 air defense systems to Iran

The Belarusian government denied on Wednesday rumors that Minsk had allegedly sold S-300 air defense systems to Iran.

The Associated Press earlier cited the Iranian semi-official news agency Fars as saying that Iran had acquired two S-300PT (SA-10 Grumble) systems from Belarus and two more systems from an unidentified supplier. Iranian officials have not confirmed the fact so far.

"The State Military-Industrial Committee can officially state that Belarus has never held talks with Iran on the deliveries of the S-300 air defense systems," committee's spokesman Vladimir Lavrenyuk told RIA Novosti.

"Belarus has never supplied S-300 systems or their components to Iran," he said, adding that Minsk strictly complied with international arms control regulations.

Jane's Defense Systems News reported as far back as in January 2008 that Tehran was in the final stages of negotiations with Belarus for the acquisition of two surplus trailer-mounted towed S-300PT systems.

These outdated systems were deployed near Minsk and Belarus allegedly asked $140 mln for the two systems (including parts, maintenance and training).

The actual sale has never been confirmed. Belarus has no right to resell air defense systems supplied by the Soviet Union and later the Russian Federation.

Russia signed a contract on supplying Iran with at least five S-300 systems in December 2005, but the contract's implementation has so far been delayed.

On June 9, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1929 imposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, including tougher financial controls and an expanded arms embargo.

The sale of S-300 air defense systems is believed to fall under the sanctions, though earlier Russia said the delivery would not be affected since the weapons are not included in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

The S-300 PT is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles (144 kilometers) and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet (27,432 meters).

MINSK, August 4 (RIA Novosti)


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