According to The New York Times, the Obama administration has agreed that Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles will be allowed for sale to Iran under the UN Security sanctions proposal. This loophole will be allowed under the “defense weapons sales” which Moscow demanded as a concession in exchange for its support for sanctions.
The S-300 is a long range anti-aircraft missile system capable of engaging and shooting down multiple enemy aircraft. Russia announced the sale in 2007, but refrained from delivering it due to the US and Israeli pressure. If Iran deploys S-300, the military option of neutralizing its nuclear weapons program by an aerial campaign may become much more difficult. In addition to that key concession, Russian-language papers are even reporting that all of the 2008 sanctions imposed on the Russian Rosoboronexport arms merchants have been lifted as well.
If these reports are true it raises serious questions about the wisdom and effectiveness of the Russia “reset” policy, pursued by the Administration since its announcement in early 2009.
The “reset” policy has resulted in abandonment of the George W. Bush-era missile defense deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic; announcement — under the Nuclear Posture Review – that the U.S. will not produce new nuclear weapons; verbal promises not to deploy a strategic missile defense system; toning down of rhetoric on individual rights in Russia; and a see-no-evil attitude towards the Russian agenda in the former Soviet Union, known as the “near-abroad”.
The Obama administration toned down its rhetoric about Russian sale of the French assault ship Mistral which may threaten Russia’s neighbors in the Black and Baltic seas, and ignored continuing occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are parts of Georgia. It ignored Russian-Ukrainian agreement to extend the lease of the Black Sea Fleet naval base in Sevastopol until 2042, and said nothing about Russia’s interference in Kyrgyzstan, which led to the fall of the Bakiyev regime.
Equally important is the Administration’s pursuit of the New START arms control treaty, under which the US will cut its deployed nuclear warheads and launchers by 30 percent and dilute the inspection mechanism.
In the meantime the Kremlin “reached out” to terrorism-sponsoring states, such as Syria and Venezuela. Recent visits by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Caracas and President Dmitry Medvedev to Damascus culminated in announced sales of nuclear reactors and sophisticated weaponry, including missiles — a highly destabilizing step. The Obama Administration, in the meantime, refused sales of defensive weapons to the US friend Georgia, and refused to invite President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to the Washington non-proliferation summit.
If all these policies were aimed to achieve an effective sanctions package against Iran with Russian support, then the “resent” policy failed. The sanctions, as advertised, will not be able to stop the Iranian race to gain nukes.
The reported US capitulation on S-300 is the latest in the long list of unilateral concessions to Russia, which endanger US friends and negatively affect US national security.