Tehran: Iranian armed forces chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi said on Friday that Russia was now six months late in delivering advanced air defence missiles in a deal strongly opposed by Israel.
“We have some criticisms about the conduct of our Russian friends,” the Mehr news agency quoted the general as saying.
“Why haven’t they delivered the S-300 missiles?… Six months have now passed since they were supposed to deliver them.”
It was the first time an Iranian official has spoken of a delivery date for the missiles under the deal which has never been officially confirmed by Moscow.
On Wednesday, Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi urged Russia to ignore Israeli pressure to scrap the deal and to honour its obligations.
“We have a contract with Russia to buy S-300 missiles. I don’t think it is right for Russia to be seen in the world as a country which does not fulfil its contractual obligations,” Vahidi told the ILNA news agency.
“Russia has to fulfil the contract and not be influenced by Zionist pressure.”
Last month, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Iran had not yet paid for the missiles because Moscow has not given its final approval for the deal, which has also set alarm bells ringing in the West.
Under the contract, Russia would sell Iran five batteries of S-300PMU1 missiles for around 800 million dollars (530 million euros), Interfax reported.
The S-300PMU1 — codenamed the SA-20 Gargoyle by NATO — is a mobile land-based system designed to shoot down aircraft and cruise missiles.
Western governments fear Iran could use the system to boost defences around its nuclear sites against an eventual Israeli or US air strike.
Neither country has excluded the possibility of military action to prevent Tehran acquiring an atomic bomb, an ambition Iranian officials strongly deny.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and its right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, unlike Israel, which has the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal.