Iran gets Russian defence missiles

Russia has struck a deal to provide Iran with Tor M-1 missiles, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Monday.

"A contract for the delivery of air defense Tor missiles to Iran has indeed been signed," Ivanov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

"This unequivocally does not change the balance of forces in the region," Ivanov added. Tor M-1 missiles are short-range, surface-to-air missiles already used by several other armed forces, including China.

Russian media reported Friday that Russian and Iranian officials had signed contracts in November that would send up to 30 Tor-M1 missile systems to Iran over the next two years.

The reports prompted an immediate expression of concern from the U.S administration and in Israel, which considers Iran to be its biggest threat.

Israeli concerns were heightened recently after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged that Israel be "wiped off the map."

Interfax 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 (6,100 meters).

On Saturday, an influential Iranian official downplayed the deal, telling the official Islamic Republic News Agency that Iran has been trading arms with many countries and would continue to do so.

And the Russian Foreign Ministry, without commenting on the reported missile sale, said Saturday that all Russian weaponry supplied to Iran is purely for defensive purposes, the AP reports.


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