BRATISLAVA: Russia continues to hold talks on deliveries of S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran, a Russian defense official said on Wednesday

“Contracts have been signed, and they are being implemented – they have not been torn up,” head of the Federal Agency for Military Cooperation Mikhail Dmitriyev said.

He reiterated that Russia has not yet decided on the date for the delivery of the systems.

Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of at least five S-300 air defense systems to Tehran in December 2005. However, Moscow has not so far honored the contract, which many experts say is due to pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv.

Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and have expressed concern over S-300 deliveries, which would significantly strengthen Iran’s air defenses.

The advanced version of the S-300 missile system, called S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), has a range of over 150 kilometers (over 100 miles) and can intercept ballistic missiles and aircraft at low and high altitudes, making the system an effective tool for warding off possible airstrikes.

Russian defense industry officials have repeatedly said that Russia is interested in fulfilling the contract, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but the future of the contract would largely depend on the current situation in international affairs and the Kremlin’s position.

Iranian officials have said that Iran could sue Russia in an international court if Moscow refuses to fulfill its commitments on the delivery of the S-300 system to Tehran.

The long-disputed issue came into media spotlight again on the eve of the signing of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty between Moscow and Washington to be signed by presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama on April 8 in Prague.