x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Medvedev: 'Israel is not going to deliver any blows on Iran'

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev says he has been assured by Israel's President Shimon Peres that 'Israel is not going to deliver any blows on Iran'. Mr Medvedev was responding to question about the delivery of the S-300 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that Russia has agreed to sell Iran. The Russian president's statement comes shortly after Israel's air force commander indicated that Israel would do whatever it can to prevent the system being deployed.

In an interview with CNN the president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, said that during a recent visit to Russia, Israel's President Shimon Peres made a noteworthy statement. "[Mr Peres] said something that is very important for all of us, namely, that Israel is not going to deliver any blows on Iran, that Israel is a peaceful country and will not do it. Therefore any supplies of any weapons, all the more defensive weapons, can not increase tension; on the contrary they should ease it. But if there are people who have such plans, it seems to me that they have to think about it. For this reason, our task is not to strengthen Iran and weaken Israel or visa versa but our task is to ensure a normal, calm situation in the Middle East. I believe that is our task." Mr Medvedev was responding to question about the delivery of the S-300 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that Russia has agreed to sell Iran. The Russian president's statement comes shortly after Israel's air force commander indicated that Israel would do whatever it can to prevent the system being deployed in any country the IAF "needs to operate or may need to operate in the future." "Israel needs to make every effort to stop the S-300 missile defense system from reaching countries where the air force may need to fly, IAF commander Maj-Gen Ido Nehushtan has told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview. " 'The S-300 is a Russian-made surface-to-air missile system that is very advanced, with long ranges and many capabilities,' Nehushtan told the Post in the interview, which appears in our Friday Magazine. " 'We need to make every effort to stop this system from getting to places where the IAF needs to operate or may need to operate in the future,' he said. "The S-300 is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft missile systems in the world and has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 km and can hit targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet. "While Russia and Iran signed a deal for the sale of the system several years ago, according to latest assessments in Israel, it has yet to be delivered." In his interview with CNN, Mr Medvedev was asked whether Russia would support Iran in the event of an Israeli attack. He said: "Russia can not support anybody or act in such situation. We are a peaceful state and we have our own understanding of our defense strategy. This is the first point. "The second point. We have our allies with which we have concluded one or other agreements. In case of Iran we do not have obligations of this kind. But it does not mean that we would like to be or will be impossible before such developments. This is the worst thing that can be imagined. I have already commented on this issue. Let us try together to reason upon it. What will happen after that? Humanitarian disaster, a vast number of refugees, Iran's wish to take revenge and not only upon Israel, to be honest, but upon other countries as well. And absolutely unpredictable development of the situation in the region. I believe that the magnitude of this disaster can be weighted against almost nothing. For this reason before making decision to deliver blows it is necessary to assess the situation. It would be the most unreasonable developments. But my Israeli colleagues told me that they were not planning to act in this way and I trust them." The columnist, Patrick Seale, wrote for Agence Global: "According to most intelligence estimates, Iran is still some years away from military nuclear capability - if indeed it has such an ambition, which it denies. Israel, on the other hand, has had nuclear weapons for more than forty years, as well as increasingly sophisticated means to deliver them. Its nuclear arsenal is estimated conservatively at more than 200 warheads - it may indeed be twice as big - including a second strike capability in the form of nuclear-tipped, submarine-based cruise missiles. "Israel has thus more than ample means to deter an Iranian attack, however grossly improbable such an attack may be. The obvious conclusion is that Israel is not so much concerned by the possibility of an Iranian nuclear attack, but rather that an Iranian bomb could greatly restrict Israel's own freedom of action against its Arab neighbours. Israel's real fear, therefore, would seem to be that the military dominance it now enjoys over the entire region might be eroded, and that it might be forced to accept something in the nature of a balance of power - which it has always fiercely resisted. "Russia's view of Iran is altogether different. Iran is one of Moscow's important commercial and strategic partners. Russia happens to be completing Iran's first nuclear power plant. Russia has firmly opposed imposing further international sanctions on Iran and has welcomed Tehran's offer of talks with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany - the so-called 'five plus one'. To Israel's great displeasure, these talks are due to start on 1 October. "Far from destabilising the Middle East - as Israel and France claim - the Russian view is that selling advanced air defence systems to Iran contributes to regional stability by checking Israeli adventurism." The Associated Press reported: "Iran's supreme leader said Sunday that US officials know they are wrongly accusing Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. "In Iran's first official reaction to the US decision to scrap a European missile intercept system to defend against threats from Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed President Barack Obama's administration is following the same policies as its predecessor. " 'The US officials who talk about Iranian missiles and their danger while saying Iran intends to build a nuclear bomb, they know these words are wrong,' Khamenei said in remarks broadcast on state-run radio. 'Despite its apparent friendly messages and words' the Obama administration is pursuing the same policy of Iran-phobia, he said."

pwoodward@thenational.ae