This nuke deal with Iran had better work. Because the Kremlin is lifting a ban on selling a powerful air defense system to Iran that would render an airstrike on Tehran's nuclear weapons facilities nearly impossible.
The delivery of the new weapon, called the Almaz-Antei S-300PMU-1—known as the SA-20 Gargoyle in NATO parlance—would effectively force the U.S. to rely on its small fleet of stealth aircraft to strike targets inside Iran in case the mullahs make a dash for the bomb. But even those aircraft might have a difficult time.
"This would be a huge deal depending on where they [the S-300s] are based...The Persian Gulf would be an interesting place to fly," said one senior defense official with experience on multiple stealth aircraft types. "These new [surface-to-air missiles] change the whole complexion...It's a big move."
According to a report from Russian state media, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday that would allow the sale of the fearsome S-300 air defense system to Iran.
The missile deal with Iran would reportedly net Russia more than $800 million.
Last year, analysts predicted that if the U.S. sanctions of the Russian economy grew too tight, the Kremlin would respond by selling S-300s to Tehran. "I could see as part of this deal [between Tehran and Moscow] that they would agree to transfer advanced missiles to Iran," Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told The Daily Beast at the time. "If Putin became angry enough over the West's financial punishment of Russia, he could put in play the S-300 deal."
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