Iran ‘could get’ Rus­sian mis­sile sys­tem

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY YAAKOV KATZ JERUSALEM

NEAR­ING THE end of his term in of­fice, Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert made a light­ning trip to Moscow this week in an ef­fort to per­suade the Krem­lin not to sell ad­vanced mis­sile sys­tems to Iran and Syria.

At the core of the talks was an Ira­nian re­quest to pur­chase the ad­vanced and long-range S-300 anti-air­craft mis­sile sys­tem that would se­verely cur­tail the Is­raeli Air Force’s free­dom in the skies if a mil­i­tary strike was launched against the Iran’s nu­clear in­stal­la­tions.

The S-300 is one of the most ad­vanced multi-tar­get anti-air­craft-mis­sile sys­tems in the world to­day. It has a re­ported abil­ity to track up to 100 tar­gets si­mul­ta­ne­ously while en­gag­ing up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200km and can hit tar­gets at al­ti­tudes of 90,000ft.

While Rus­sia has yet to sell the sys­tem to Iran, Tehran claimed last year that Moscow was to equip them with S-300 sys­tems and me­dia re­ports have quoted se­nior Is­raeli of­fi­cials say­ing that they will be de­liv­ered by the end of 2008.

While Mr Olmert did not re­ceive a guar­an­tee from Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev that the sys­tem would not be sold to Iran, the Is­raeli and Rus­sian leaders did de­cide to up- grade bi­lat­eral de­fence re­la­tions and to es­tab­lish a new mech­a­nism to co­or­di­nate is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est such as arms deals in the Mid­dle East.

Mr Olmert’s trip to Moscow was widely viewed in Is­rael as a pub­lic­ity stunt by the premier, who last month re­signed fol­low­ing the Kadima pri­maries. He will stay in of­fice un­til For­eign Min­is­ter Tzipi Livni suc­ceeds in form­ing a new coali­tion. If she fails, gen­eral elec­tions will be held and Mr Olmert could stay in of­fice un­til mid-2009.

In ad­di­tion to dis­cussing arms deals in the re­gion, Mr Olmert also urged his Rus­sian coun­ter­part to use his lever­age in Tehran in get­ting the Ira­ni­ans to sus­pend their en­rich­ment of ura­nium, a key com­po­nent for a nu­clear bomb.

Is­raeli Mil­i­tary In­tel­li­gence re­cently re­vealed that Iran has al­ready up to two-thirds of the amount of en­riched ura­nium needed for a nu­clear de­vice.

Fol­low­ing his meet­ing with Mr Medvedev, Mr Olmert told re­porters that the Rus­sian leader said he op­posed a nu­clear Iran and was very crit­i­cal of Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad’s anti-Is­rael rhetoric.

Mr Olmert re­ceived an un­ex­pected vis­i­tor at his ho­tel on Tues­day morn­ing — for­mer Chelsea man­ager Avram Grant. Mr Grant and Mr Olmert, an avid foot­ball fan, are old friends.

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