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IRAN AND THE S-300 ISSUE
American Foreign Policy Council ^ | 10/29/2009 | Ilan Berman, ed.

Posted on 10/29/2009 11:38:03 PM PDT by bruinbirdman

In the deepening international stand-off over Iran's nuclear program, the Islamic Republic's quest for advanced air- and missile defense technologies could play a decisive role. "For years now, Tehran has been working hard to acquire sophisticated Russian antiaircraft missiles that would make it far tougher for Israeli planes to stage a successful attack on Iranian nuclear facilities," Christian Caryl wrote on October 2nd in the online edition of Foreign Policy magazine. That system is the S-300, an advanced interceptor array believed to be superior to the U.S. Patriot. Russia signed a deal to deliver units of the S-300 to Iran back in 2007, but has so far refrained from doing so as a result of pressure from both Israel and the United States. But if it does, it could turn out to be a game-changer: "At minimum the S-300 would force the Israelis to take extensive countermeasures, like using aircraft with jammers, aircraft with anti-radiation missiles, drones with decoys -- this whole three-ring circus that you would need to get past it," globalsecurity.org's John Pike says.

Russia's restraint, meanwhile, appears to be slipping amid worries that it could be outmaneuvered by alternate suppliers such as China. Despite its previous hesitance, Russia now "plans to further implement the military-technical cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran in strict accordance with existing legislation and its international obligations," the Fars News Agency (October 23) reports Russia's Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation as saying. If it does not, the agency statement said, "it would mean becoming an unreliable partner (and) give potential competitors a chance to take advantage of the situation."


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: airdefense; bhoiran; iran; iraniannukes; patriotmissile; pmu2; russia; s300; s400; sa20; tehran

1 posted on 10/29/2009 11:38:03 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
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To: bruinbirdman

2 posted on 10/29/2009 11:38:47 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: bruinbirdman

The Other Ticking Clock in Iran

The recent revelations about Iran’s nuclear program — centering on an enrichment facility buried in a mountain near the holy city of Qom — have almost certainly intensified the sense of urgency among policymakers in Jerusalem. Even though the news has triggered a new round of high-stakes diplomacy (including an unusual bilateral meeting between Americans and Iranians), you can bet that Israeli military planning for an attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities has moved into overdrive. Yet there’s another ticking clock the Israelis are worried about that hasn’t been in the headlines quite so much.

For years now, Tehran has been working hard to acquire sophisticated Russian antiaircraft missiles that would make it far tougher for Israeli planes to stage a successful attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. One Israeli lawmaker, Zeev Elkin, even warned last week that delivering the missiles could even speed up the timing of an Israeli air raid. “I hope Moscow understands that the deliveries will at least speed up such events, if not trigger them,” Elkin told the Russian daily Kommersant. Experts estimate that a working Iranian nuclear weapon is still probably at least a year away, depending on a host of contingencies. But the Russian missiles, which just might ensure that Iran’s nuclear installations can be protected from attack, could be delivered at any time. So it’s easy to understand why, right now, Israeli minds seem to be focused on the more urgent of these two ticking clocks.

The system in question is the S-300 — actually something of a catchall term because the name covers several systems of varying ages and levels of effectiveness. The S-300 is essentially the Russian equivalent of the American Patriot: quick-reaction missiles designed to defend large areas of airspace against incoming airplanes and ballistic missiles. Although the S-300 has never been tested under combat conditions, military experts have a high opinion of its capabilities — especially those of the more recent variants like the PMU-2 Favorit (known in the West as the SA-20B), which can track 100 targets while engaging up to 12. It can hit targets as far as 120 miles away. “It’s a high-technology weapon,” said Siemon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms shipments around the world. “It has an impact which is not restricted to just two or three square kilometers. It’s a major thing.”

Russia apparently first offered the Iranians the chance to buy S-300s in 2005, but then pulled back on the deal due to diplomatic controversies surrounding Iran’s nuclear programs. In 2007, Tehran signed a contract to buy several S-300 batteries — or so at least it would seem. Confusion about the actual state of the deal has swirled ever since. Anatoly Isaikin, director of Russia’s state arms export company, confirmed in September of last year that the two countries were negotiating a sale. In April of this year Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari visited Moscow to push things along and declared, “There are no problems with this contract.” Yet so far none of the system appears to have been delivered to the Iranians.

The Israelis don’t seem reassured. For months they’ve been lobbying Moscow to hold off on delivering the missiles. Israel’s Russian-speaking foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, visited the Kremlin in June, and the missile deal figured large in his discussions with Russian officials. President Shimon Peres turned up in Russia in August to drive home the point. In September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also set off for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. First item on the agenda: S-300s. (Netanyahu at first told the press he was headed somewhere else, but the cover story soon fell through, igniting considerable controversy back at home.)

Why are the Israelis so worked up? Simple. Just consider the air raid — dubbed “Operation Orchard” — staged by Israel on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in September 2007. (U.S. and Israeli officials contend that the Syrian installation was built with help from the North Koreans.) The Syrian air defenses consisted largely of the same missiles the Iranians have now — Russian-made Tor M1s (known by NATO as SA-15s). But they didn’t leave a scratch on the attackers. The Israelis successfully befuddled the Syrian radars and didn’t lose a single plane; the Syrian target was completely wiped out. The raid has been described as a “dress rehearsal” for a possible attack on Iranian sites.

The whole affair might have worked out rather differently had the Syrians been equipped with S-300s — and the Israelis know it. The Russians boast that, in stark contrast to the Patriot, the S-300 actually hits warheads rather than missile bodies. (It is well remembered in the missile business that most Iraqi Scuds that were intercepted by Patriots during the first Gulf War made it to their targets anyway.) The Russians also claim that the powerful radars of their latest generation of air-defense missiles can even cope with stealth aircraft. “It’s long range; it’s high altitude; it’s fast,” said John Pike, founder of defense industry Web site GlobalSecurity.org. “At minimum the S-300 would force the Israelis to take extensive countermeasures, like using aircraft with jammers, aircraft with anti-radiation missiles, drones with decoys — this whole three-ring circus that you would need to get past it.”

Small wonder that many observers think Israel would go to considerable lengths to prevent a shipment of the high-tech missiles. Earlier this year an Israeli hand was immediately suspected in the peculiar case of the Arctic Sea, the cargo ship that was mysteriously hijacked in the Baltic Sea this summer and then disappeared from view for several weeks until the Russian Navy finally caught up with it off the coast of Cape Verde. Rumor had it that the ship, which had made a stop in the Russian port of Kaliningrad before setting out on its voyage, was carrying S-300 parts (perhaps illicitly obtained by organized criminals) to Iran. Perhaps the Mossad was behind the hijacking?

We’ll probably never know what really happened. The hijackers were taken into custody by the Russians and have since been held incommunicado. But the idea of Israeli involvement seems unlikely for many reasons (not least the sloppiness with which the hijacking was carried out). As Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute points out, you don’t really own the S-300 if you only have a few scavenged parts — the whole weapon comprises a big package, including truck-mounted launchers and bulky radar units. Plus, he notes, the equipment is essentially useless without the necessary technical support and multiyear maintenance contracts, which will only come with a legally delivered system.

Some of the most intriguing maneuverings surrounding Iran’s effort to beef up its air defenses are taking place in the public arena. Russian officials — all the way up to President Medvedev himself — have publicly stressed that Moscow is within its rights to sell S-300s to Tehran, arguing that the Iranians are entitled to any defensive systems they wish to own (and that this doesn’t violate the U.N. embargo on supplying Iran with nuclear-related technology). Yet the fact that the Kremlin feels compelled to make the case suggests that the lobbying is having some effect. And not only from the Israelis. Some experts think the Barack Obama administration’s cancellation of ballistic missile defense plans in Eastern Europe might have involved a countermove by Russia to back off from delivering S-300s to Tehran. Could that, perhaps, be connected with the recent news from Saudi Arabia? It turns out that the Saudis have been offering the Russians a better price for the sale of the S-300 to them instead of to the Iranians (whose nuclear aspirations are only slightly less disturbing to Riyadh than to Tel Aviv).

But the Russians have to be careful. The Chinese have apparently offered to sell the Iranians their own version of the S-300, a cheaper knockoff of the Russian original. Moscow doesn’t want to lose its present favored position as the cheap weapons supplier to Iran, one of the few big arms markets left where Russia is an undisputed leader. Weapons sales are big business for Moscow tycoons. (Just to make things even more interesting, the company that makes the S-300 is run by ex-KGB man Viktor Ivanov, a major ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.)

Still, it’s safe to assume that some skulduggery has already been taking place out of the public eye. The Israelis (and the Americans) must be keeping a close eye on every Russian cargo airplane that enters Iranian airspace, not to mention ships traveling between the two countries across the Caspian Sea. And given the tensions, it’s easy to imagine that Israeli special forces are already hunkered down in the desert outside Natanz and Arak, keeping a close eye on everything that’s happening in the surrounding countryside and getting ready to switch on their laser pointers when the time is ripe — as they apparently did in the run-up to the 2007 raid in Syria. This story is far from over.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/02/the_other_ticking_clock_in_iran?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full


3 posted on 10/29/2009 11:41:49 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: F15Eagle

It has the same capabilities of the U.S. Patriot missile. I have read some accounts that its capable of intercepting warheads.Again, this system has not been tested in the battlefield.


5 posted on 10/30/2009 12:01:55 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: F15Eagle

These missiles are most likely deployed around the main nuclear facilities in Iran. The goal of the United States and Israel is to develop some sort of countermeasure.


6 posted on 10/30/2009 12:07:00 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: bruinbirdman
Hey, Iran! We got your "300" for you!


8 posted on 10/30/2009 12:25:33 AM PDT by shibumi (" ..... then we will fight in the shade.")
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To: F15Eagle

It’s not too late to hit Bushehr. Israel could possibly TMI, yes the one in PA, Bushehr and render the reactor scrap without scattering radiation. The reactor core at TMI did disintegrate. There are possible scenarios to create the same situation at Bushehr.


9 posted on 10/30/2009 1:02:35 AM PDT by meatloaf
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To: sonofstrangelove

The ‘300’ stands for the missile range in km....it certainly will put a crimp in stand-off operations, especially the S-400....a JSTARS, etc. will think twice about their safety. The engagement radar on this system is one nasty piece of work. It is better than a Patriot radar.


10 posted on 10/30/2009 2:02:48 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: bruinbirdman; FARS; Grampa Dave; Ernest_at_the_Beach

America and Israel are threatened by the Doper Islamo-Communist Kenyan (DICK) and his treacherous alliance with Iran and Russia. We have B-2s and Massive Ordnance Penetrators, but Goat Boy plays golf as his control Zbigniew Brzezinski threatens to shoot down Israeli planes. Treason is defined by Hussein's 1) buying time for Iran to develop its warhead and missile combo; 2) Hussein surrendering to Putin on every point. He's a KGB Active Measures project and will not disappoint.


11 posted on 10/30/2009 2:22:11 AM PDT by PhilDragoo (Hussein: Islamo-Commie from Kenya)
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To: PhilDragoo
"Treason is defined by Hussein's 1) buying time for Iran to develop its warhead and missile combo;"

The Obammunist to Bibi: "We can live with an Iranian bomb. So can you."

yitbos

12 posted on 10/30/2009 2:49:09 AM PDT by bruinbirdman ("Those who control language control minds.")
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To: PhilDragoo
If it does not, the agency statement said, "it would mean becoming an unreliable partner (and) give potential competitors a chance to take advantage of the situation."

You mean sort of like Obama is doing? We agree not to live up to our agreements with Poland and Georgia but allow Russia or China to do the same for Iran.

What interest can Russia have in Iran other than to expand its power and influence and be a thorn in the side of the West? Russia's primary export is oil, the same as Iran. If they are not trying to expand their power and influence why would they want to be a thorn in our side?

13 posted on 10/30/2009 8:17:57 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government)
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To: F15Eagle

I agree


14 posted on 10/30/2009 1:39:57 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: Gaffer

Russia anti-aircraft missile systems have a spotty history especially when confronted by Western electronic countermeasures.


15 posted on 10/30/2009 1:47:20 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: sonofstrangelove
Perhaps only prototypes S-300 have been witnessed. Maybe, as with most new Russian military equipment (SLBMs, IBMs, the Indian aircraft carrier conversion), they are not capable of re-producing, exporting and maintaining this stuff?

yitbos

16 posted on 10/30/2009 3:15:12 PM PDT by bruinbirdman ("Those who control language control minds.")
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To: sonofstrangelove

You may be working on the information gained from older systems like the SA-8, maybe possibly the SA-15, but you can’t tell me of a case where American A/C have gone up a foreign-operated S-300 target engagement radar in a real battle..


17 posted on 10/30/2009 3:32:35 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer

I read that the Israelis on their attack on the Syrian plant was able to electronically jam these missiles.According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, U.S. industry and military sources speculated that the Israelis may have used technology similar to America’s Suter airborne network attack system to allow their planes to pass undetected by radar into Syria. This would make it possible to feed enemy radar emitters with false targets, and even directly manipulate enemy sensors. Syria is reported to have the new state-of-the art Pantsyr-S1E Russian radar systems.


18 posted on 10/31/2009 12:18:12 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: Gaffer

I read that the Israelis on their attack on the Syrian plant was able to electronically jam these missiles.According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, U.S. industry and military sources speculated that the Israelis may have used technology similar to America’s Suter airborne network attack system to allow their planes to pass undetected by radar into Syria. This would make it possible to feed enemy radar emitters with false targets, and even directly manipulate enemy sensors. Syria is reported to have the new state-of-the art Pantsyr-S1E Russian radar systems.


19 posted on 10/31/2009 12:18:25 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: sonofstrangelove

Wiki on Suter Computer Program:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/04/radar_hack_raid/


20 posted on 10/31/2009 12:21:15 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/04/radar_hack_raid/


21 posted on 10/31/2009 12:21:45 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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To: bruinbirdman

I agree with you


22 posted on 10/31/2009 12:24:46 AM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld ("We will either find a way, or make one."Hannibal/Carthaginian Military Commander)
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