Iran sanctions won't stop missiles: Russian senator

MOSCOW Fri May 21, 2010 6:05am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The head of a parliamentary foreign affairs committee was quoted on Friday as saying that sanctions on Iran being discussed by world powers would not stop Russia from delivering S-300 surface to air missiles to Tehran.

Israel and the United States have asked Russia not to fulfill its contract to deliver the S-300s, which could undermine any air attack on Iranian facilities. Diplomats say Moscow is keen to keep the order as a bargaining chip with Tehran.

Asked if sanctions would block delivery of the S-300s, Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "The draft will not hit current contracts between Russia and Iran," Interfax news agency said.

"It should be remembered that Russia is a responsible seller of its products on foreign markets and we are not interested in the militarization of the Middle East."

Russia is one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council who have approved a draft resolution on a new set of sanctions against Iran that Washington circulated at the United Nations on Tuesday.

Diplomats at the United Nations this week said that the sanctions under discussion might block the S-300 sale.

Washington has spent much diplomatic effort in persuading Russia and China, also a permanent Security Council member, to back sanctions and a tougher line on Tehran. Both want to maintain trade relations with Iran, a major energy producer.

Western officials are also concerned by a Russian-Iranian project to build Iran's first nuclear power station at Bushehr. A Russian official on Tuesday said the plant's long-delayed first reactor would begin operating in August.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries)