TEHRAN (Reuters) - Russia should honor a contract to sell a missile defense system to Iran and not bend to outside pressure, the Islamic Republic’s defense minister said in remarks published on Thursday.
Russia, which is under Western pressure to distance itself from Iran, has not followed through on proposals to supply high-grade S-300 air defense missiles.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Russia last month for not providing the arms to Iran, which is at odds with the West over its nuclear and missile programs.
Israel says the S-300 systems could be used to defend Iranian nuclear facilities against potential air strikes.
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Iran had a contract with Russia to buy the missile system.
“In connection with the purchase of S-300, we have a contract with Russia and I do not think it would be suitable for Russia to be seen as an uncertain partner in the world,” Vahidi said in remarks published in Siyasat-e Rouz newspaper on Thursday.
Moscow “should honor the contract and not be influenced by the Zionists ... of course we are hopeful the issue will be resolved as soon as possible,” Vahidi said. Iran usually refers to Israel as the “Zionist regime.”
Vahidi’s comments were initially carried by Iran’s labor news agency ILNA.
An influential Iranian parliamentarian, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, earlier this week also said Russia should keep its word on selling the missile system to Iran.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said last month “there have been no such deliveries to date.”
The truck-mounted S-300PMU1, known in the West as the SA-20, can shoot down cruise missiles and aircraft. It can fire at targets up to 150 km (90 miles) away and travel at more than two km per second.
Israel, which is thought to have the Middle East’s only atomic arsenal, has hinted it could attack Iran in an effort to stop it obtaining nuclear weapons.
Iran, which says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity, has threatened to retaliate for any attack by firing medium-range missiles at Israel.
Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security council, has backed three sets of mild U.N. sanctions against Iran since 2006. But it has so far blocked any stronger measures.
Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Robin Pomeroy