Suing Russia gives Moscow 'legal trump card' - Iran

Starting to calculate the place for deploying the S-300PS anti-aircraft missile system (RIA Novosti / STF)
Russian officials said they are surprised by Tehran's decision to file suit with an international court against Russia because of the latter's decision not to sell the Islamic Republic S-300 air defense systems.

­Iranian Ambassador to Russia Seyed Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday that his country had filed a suit against Russia with an international court because of its refusal to supply Iran with S-300 air defense missile systems.

Moscow responded with surprise at the announcement.

"Considering the traditionally friendly nature of our bilateral relations, it was certainly surprising to us that our Iranian partners have chosen this exact measure," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Interfax on Thursday.

"For our part, we would deem it much more constructive to jointly look for mutually acceptable ways to settle disagreements which arise from time to time through direct dialogue," he said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman went on to say it was "impossible" for Russia would reverse its decision due to a resolution by the UN Security Council.

"Russia's implementation of the contract has become impossible due to adopted resolution 1929 of the UN Security Council and presidential decree 1154 of  September 22, 2010, which defines the procedure for its implementation,"

the diplomat said.

The Iranian Ambassador to Russia said the decision to file suit against Russia was done with the purpose to “give Russia a legal trump card” in fulfilling the deliveries.

"Legally, we believe that the shipment of S-300 is not included in the UN Security Council resolution," said the Iranian diplomat. "We have sent a complaint with the aim of securing a court decision that would help Russia carry out these deliveries, to let Russia have a legal trump card."

Moscow has "taken note of statements by Iranian officials regarding their intention to go to an arbitration court to contest Russia's actions in this connection," Lukashevich said.

In deciding not to sell S-300s to Iran, Russia acted in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, he said. In June 2010, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1929 on tougher sanctions against Iran.

The United States and Israel, which have said that “all options are on the table” when it comes to Iran and its nuclear program, have urged Russia not to deliver the missiles to Tehran.

Russia initially said the delivery of the sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems to Iran would not be affected by UN sanctions against Iran since they are not included in the UN Register of Conventional Arms. However, experts from the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) announced last year that the S-300 system falls under the new set of UN sanctions.

"An analysis of the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 1929 adopted on June 9, 2010, conducted by the FSMTC experts, shows that the restrictive measures contained in the document apply to the delivery of S-300 air defense systems to Iran as well," the agency said in a statement.

The S-300 contract is worth some $800 million, while Russian officials estimate the forfeit penalty for the S-300 contract at $400 million.

In September 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. The decree stated that Moscow would not implement the terms of the agreement on the S-300 systems. 

"The implementation of a relevant contract by Russia became impossible with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 and Russian presidential decree No. 1154 of September 22, 2010, which determines the meansof its observance by Russia," Lukashevich said.

Meanwhile, during a demonstration of a new cruise missile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted on Thursday that Iran can cripple their enemies “on the ground.”

In September 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929. The decree stated that Moscow would not implement the terms of the agreement on the delivery of S-300 systems, even though the Iranian operators of these systems had completed their training in Russia.

Robert Bridge, RT