MOSCOW – Russia’s weapons sales to Iran are purely for defensive purposes, a government spokesman said Saturday, in response to reports that Russia was selling $1 billion worth of weapons to Iran.
The news reports said Russian was selling Iran advanced missiles and other systems, but the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mikhail Kamynin, did not comment on specifics, saying in a statement only that they were “exclusively defensive weapons.”
Kamynin said the sales fully complied with nonproliferation commitments and Russian law.
The statement appeared timed to head off the heated reaction expected from the United States after Russian media reported Friday that officials had signed contracts in November that would send up to 30 Tor-M1 missile systems to Iran over the next two years.
The Interfax news agency said the Tor-M1 system could identify up to 48 targets and fire at two targets simultaneously at a height of up to 20,000 feet.
A high-ranking Iranian official downplayed the deal, telling the official Islamic Republic News Agency on Saturday that Iran buys arms from many countries and would not stop.
“Iran’s and Russia’s military cooperation is not a complicated issue,” said Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. “It existed before, and there was no ban on it.”
Israel carried out a successful test of its Arrow missile defense system, intercepting and destroying a missile similar to Iran’s long-range Shahab-3.
Israel considers Iran its biggest threat, and does not believe the Muslim theocracy’s claims that its nuclear program is peaceful. Israeli concerns were heightened recently after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged that Israel be “wiped off the map.”
The TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile system is a mobile, integrated air defense system, designed for operation at medium-, low- and very low –altitudes, against fixed/rotary wing aircraft, UAVs, guided missiles and precision weapon. The system is capable of operating in an intensive aerial jamming environment. The system is comprised of a number of missile Transporter Launcher Vehicle (TLV). A Russian air defense Tor battalion consists of 3 – 5 companies, each equipped with four TLVs. Each TLV is equipped with 8 ready to launch missiles, associating radars, fire control systems and a battery command post. The combat vehicle can operate autonomously, firing from stationary positions or on the move. The each fire unit can engage and launch missiles against two separate targets.
Tor can track up to 48 targets and engage two targets simultaneously, at a speed of up to 700 m/sec, and at a distance of 1 to 12 km. The system’s high lethality (aircraft kill probability of 0.92-0.95) is maintained at altitude of 10 – 6,000 m’. Reaction time could range from 3.4 seconds for stationary positions to 10 seconds while on the move. The vertically launched, single-stage solid rocket propelled missile is capable of maneuvering at loads up to 30gs. It is equipped with a 15kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead activated by a proximity fuse.
The missile is also effective against precision guided weapons and cruise missiles. In tests the missile demonstrated kill probability of such targets ranging from 0.6 to 0.9.
The first operator of the Tor system was the Russian Army Air-Defense, which operates 100 units of the SA-15 Gauntlet variant. The Russian navy also uses the naval version known as SA-N-9. China bought 50 systems and possibly 25 more, between 1997 and 2002. The Greek army fielded 21 Tor M-1 systems. Most recently (December 2005) Iran was reported to sign a deal estimated at US$ 1 billion covering the procurement of 29 TOR M-1 missile systems, modernization of air-force systems and the supply of patrol boats. The system was also proposed to several other countries. Deliveries of the TOR systems are expected between 2006-2008.
(kudos to the guys at “Defense Update” – VERY COOL SITE)