Jane VaynmanFrom Russia with Love

Yesterday, Russian newspaper Vedomosti had an interesting “Question of the Day” in their commentaries section: “How will a nuclear Iran change the world?” The paper provided several responses from Russian think-tank types, whose comments included predictions of changes in the world balance of power and the possibility of military conflict. (Translated by FNS, link here for full story but you need a subscription.) I like this quote from Alexey Malashenko (Carnegie Moscow Center):

“Nothing will change. Iran’s chances of becoming a nuclear power are about the same as Little Red Riding Hoods’s chances of eating the Wolf.”

The Russian government response to Iran resuming its nuclear research activities has been in the press quite a bit today. In these reports, a few of the big news sources, including CNN.com and RIA Novosti, have noted that Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov denies that Russia was conducting talks to sell S-300 air-defense missiles to Tehran. Ivanov confirmed that Russia will provide Iran with the shorter range Tor-M1 missiles.

Here is the issue to which Ivanov is responding. Russian daily Kommersant reported that a Russian military delegation in Tehran had cut off talks for the sale of S-300MPU-1 anti-aircraft missiles in protest of Iran’s decisions on nuclear issues:

“A defense industry source told Kommersant that “Moscow wanted to test the international reaction by signing a contract to sell Tors as a cover for S-300s.” The next move was to sell Teheran five divisions of S-300MPU-1 ballistic antiaircraft missiles for $800 million. That contract was scheduled for signing in March.

However, as tension over Iran mounted, it was understood in Moscow that it would not be possible to sell ballistic missiles to Iran – they wouldn’t understand in the West. Now Russia is hoping to resell the same S-300MPU-1 complexes to Algeria.”

This article cites a lot of “sources” and “information Kommersant obtained.” True or not, it sounds shady and mysterious, and I was entertained. Ruski spies are everywhere!


  1. James (History)

    The Tor and S-300 missiles are not “ballistic missiles” in the common usage. They are anti-aircraft weapons. I really don’t understand why their proliferation is so controversial. If you’re not planning to attack a country, you have nothing to worry about. They are both huge…it’s not like they’re going to be “passed to terrorists.”