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Iran Interested in Russian Weapons Systems: Moscow Official

Iran is interested in purchasing a range of Russian weapons systems, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, revealed Tuesday.

On the sidelines of a congress of the Union of Machine Builders, Shugayev said, “We have long-standing relations with Iran. We are implementing contractual commitments, which we assumed for deliveries,“ state-owned TASS reported.

“There are prospects [of bilateral military and technical cooperation]. Tehran is interested in various types [of armaments].”

Ties Post UN Embargo Expiration

The two countries have been in talks to expand defense cooperation since July 2019 when they signed a naval agreement, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.

Following the signing, the Iranian navy participated in Russia’s Kavkaz (Caucasus) 2020 seven-nations military exercise.

In April, President Hassan Rouhani expressed his desire to increase defense and regional cooperation with Moscow during Russian Defense Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Tehran.

The meeting between the two leaders was critical in light of the expiration of the United Nations Security Council arms embargo on the Islamic Republic in October 2020.

Decades-Old Defense Ties

Defense ties between the two nations go back to the Soviet era in 1989-1991 when the two countries signed agreements for the Soviets to supply a range of weapons to Iran.

The military hardware covered in the agreements included “MIG-29 and SU-24 fighter aircraft, aircraft missiles, S-200 air defense complexes, three diesel submarines, and hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles.”

In 1995, the Russian government, seeking closer ties with the US, agreed with Washington’s request to halt its defense ties with Iran.

However, in 2001, a new start was made to revive the relationship, marked by meetings between the nation’s leaders. The flurry of activity yielded modest returns in the form of “a $150 million helicopter contract and an order for 300 armored vehicles that was suspended a few years later,” a paper, authored by Alla Kassianova, part of PONARS Eurasia, observed.

“In the end, the contentious $700-900 million air defense systems contract announced in December 2005 became the only large-scale weapons deal signed with Iran in the entire post-Soviet period.”

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