Iran and Russia's recently announced $20 billion oil-for-goods trade deal has sparked concerns that Moscow is seeking to open up a direct line into Tehran for the import of sanctioned nuclear equipment and military hardware, shipments that would flatly violate the terms of the recently inked interim nuclear deal.
Tehran and Moscow are in the last stages of finalizing the trade deal, which would provide Russia with half-a-million barrels of Iranian oil a day. The deal would boost Iranian exports by as much as 50 percent a day, according to experts.
The trade deal could open the floodgates between the two nations and has sparked concerns that the trade pact will open a "channel for the transfer of sanctioned nuclear equipment or military hardware to Iran, not to mention other illicit financial transactions," according to Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
"The Russian system is considered to be one of the most effective air-defense systems in the world. After intense lobbying by the United States and Israel, and the passage of United Nations sanctions which even Moscow interpreted as banning the sale, Russia canceled its promised delivery of the S-300 to Iran in 2010," Dubowitz noted in his recently analysis. "But Iran has not dropped its request; the system could be a strong deterrent to a U.S. or Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities."
While Iran's economy has rebounded in recent months due to the interim deal, experts like Dubowitz warn that the trade deal with Russia will significantly reverse the inroads made by U.S. sanctions over the years.