Putin Selling Iran a 'Game Changer' Missile Defense
'Beast' could make it very hard for US to strike Iran
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2015 12:37 AM CDT
Updated Apr 14, 2015 7:03 AM CDT
A Russian air defense missile system, Antey 2500, or S-300VM, is on display at the opening of the MAKS Airshow in Zhukovsky outside Moscow.   (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
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(Newser) – The nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers is still only a "framework," but Vladimir Putin has decided to lift a ban on missile sales to Tehran—and make it a lot harder for the US to strike Iran if the deal goes bad. The Russian leader has approved the sale of an S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Iran in an $800 million deal that Russia's foreign minister says was made in a "spirit of goodwill in order to encourage progress in the talks," reports the New York Times. Sources tell Reuters that Russia has also started supplying Iran with grain and construction materials under an oil barter deal that could be worth up to $20 billion.

Russia agreed in 2010 to suspend the sale of the missile system, which military experts say would make it very difficult for the US or Israel to strike Iranian nuclear facilities. A senior US Marine Corps aviator tells the Daily Beast that the S-300 would be a "game changer" for modern aircraft like the F-15. "That thing is a beast and you don't want to get near it," he says. The White House has objected to the sale, which analysts see as part of a pattern of Moscow renewing ties with regimes hostile to the US. For Russia, "it is always good to have some third world countries hostile to the West, hostile to America," an analyst at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations tells the Times.