The ongoing back and forth surrounding Russia’s sale of advanced S-300 missile systems to Iran continued on Wednesday, as the Defense Ministry in Moscow denied reports that the system would be delivered later this week.
Earlier this week Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari claimed that a shipment of the S-300 missile defense systems is currently on its way to Iran.
In addition, the Russian TASS news agency cited reports from other media outlets claiming that the first batch of the S-300 systems would be dispatched to Iran on Thursday.
But a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman denied those claims, telling TASS on Wednesday, "The beginning of deliveries of the first consignment of Favorit missile systems cannot take place since the Iranian side has not paid the price enshrined in the contract as of February 16.”
"Therefore,” added the spokesman, “the presence of the Iranian defense minister in Astrakhan at the mythical ceremony of dispatching the first Favorit systems to Tehran is out of the question.”
The sale of the S-300, originally conducted in 2007, has been repeatedly delayed due to Western pressure given that UN nuclear sanctions ban the delivery to Iran.
But last April, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of the S-300 systems to Iran, explaining that his decision was motivated by Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its nuclear program, which led to a controversial nuclear deal last July.
Since that time, there have been continued reports asserting that the delivery of the systems was just around the corner, but all have proven to be false.
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan just last week said the first shipment of S-300 systems would come within the next two months.