Russia S300 deal confirms Iran on road to nukes

Confirmation of Iran’s intention to develop nuclear weapons comes in the form of the announcement that the sale of Russia’s sophisticated and state-of-the-art S300 air and missile defense missile system has now reached the delivery stage.  One does not need such weaponry to defend reactors generating nothing but electricity. 

In touting his deal with Iran over its nuclear program, which at best merely kicks the can past the end of his presidency so others can be blamed when it fails, President Obama has said that if Iran breaks the agreement we will know it.  That sale and delivery of the sophisticated S-300 missile system designed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles to Tehran should already tell us Tehran has every intention of breaking the agreement that is already shaping up to be a Middle Eastern Munich.

Russia and Iran signed a deal for the S300 sale in 2007, but opposition from the Bush administration and the West led to once-and-future Russian president Vladimir Putin putting the deal on hold.  But with President Obama showing less resistance to Russian and Iranian plans for the world than previous administrations, Putin has released his hold, and the deal will now go through.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and tyrants rush to fill political vacuums.

Presidential assurances that we “will know” if Iran breaks he nuclear deal are hardly reassuring.  As Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his March 3 address to Congress warning us not to trust Iran, “[t]he U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught – caught twice not once, twice – operating secret nuclear facilities at Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn’t even know existed.”

Weapons inspector Olli Heinonen, a veteran of 27 years’ worth of IAEA inspection work in Iran, Syria, North Korea, Iraq, and elsewhere, has said, “If there is no undeclared installation today … it will be the first time in 20 years that Iran doesn’t have one.”  He remembers the day in 2003 when a man walked into his IAEA office and told him of an undisclosed Iranian uranium-enrichment site at Fordow near the Shiite holy city of Qom.  The plant was buried deep inside a mountain and guarded by one S200 and two Hawk air defense missile batteries.

This is hardly the action of a state awash in oil that merely wants to develop the peaceful uses of nuclear energy or hides spinning centrifuges in a mountain so it can produce medical isotopes.  The S300 deal confirms that Iran has much more to hide than we know or are likely to know under this agreement.

The S-300 is exclusively a defensive weapon,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov insisted on the Russia Today television network, “which can’t serve offensive purposes and will not jeopardize the security of any country, including, of course, Israel.”

In fact, it is as much a “defensive” weapon as the Russian-made Buk-M1 used by Russian separatists in the Ukraine to bring down Malaysian flight MH17 with 298 people on board.  It is an offensive weapon when used to provide air cover for aggressive actions.  It is a keep-off-the-grass weapon designed to intimate neighbors and deter any response to the aggressive activities of Russia, its stooges, or its allies.

Both Moscow and Tehran are mindful of the fact that Israel has twice before taken proactive measures against potential nuclear threats from less than friendly neighbors.  Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighters on June 7, 1981 destroyed the French-built Osirak nuclear reactor just 18 miles south of Baghdad before it could go live and produce fissile material.  Had it not done so, Baghdad might possibly have had the bomb when it invaded Kuwait.  The history of the world would have changed forever, and not for the better.

Similarly, in September 2007, Israel’s “Operation Orchard” destroyed a Syrian nuclear facility being built with the help of North Korea and financed by Iran apparently modeled on a facility in North Korea used to make nuclear weapons material.  North Korea, it should be noted, has been actively assisting the Iranian missile program with Tehran’s Shahab series.  Iran’s Shahab-3 is an outgrowth of North Korea’s Nodong, and Iran’s satellite launcher, the Safir, owes much to North Korea’s Taepodong missile.

As Netanyahu told Congress, Israel will not go gently into the dark night Iran is planning for it.  That is the reason Moscow is providing Tehran with the S300 – not to protect the production of medical isotopes, but to hasten the day Iran will be capable of fulfilling its pledge to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

When will we know that Iran is breaking the nuclear deal?  It already has with the scheduled delivery and deployment of the S300.  

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.