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Viewing cable 09STATE14577, ACTION REQUEST: RUSSIA S-300 MISSILE TO IRAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09STATE14577 2009-02-18 00:12 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Secretary of State
VZCZCXYZ0012
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #4577 0490046
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O P 180030Z FEB 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0000
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0000
S E C R E T STATE 014577 
 
SIPDIS 
SECRET/NOFORN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2019 
TAGS: PARM PREL RS BA KU AE EG JO IS IR
SUBJECT: ACTION REQUEST: RUSSIA S-300 MISSILE TO IRAN 
 
REF: MOSCOW 357 
 
Classified By: NEA Acting A/S Jeffrey Feltman: Reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
 
1. (SBU) This is an action request for Posts in Abu Dhabi, 
Amman, Cairo, Kuwait City, Manama, and Riyadh.  Please see 
para 7. 
 
Summary and Background 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2. (C) Posts are requested to raise with appropriate 
government officials our concerns about Russian plans to 
transfer the S-300 long-range air-defense system to Iran. 
Washington would like these governments to immediately and 
directly raise this issue  with their Russian counterparts 
arguing that such a transfer could significantly enhance 
Iran's air defense capability; increase regional instability; 
and reward Iran at a time when Iran is undermining security 
with its nuclear pursuits and support for terrorism. 
 
3.  (S//NF) Over the past few years, the Russian Government 
has told the USG that, while it has a contract to supply the 
S-300 air-defense system to Iran, the transfer would not be 
completed until Iran complied with its international nuclear 
obligations.  USG suspicions were piqued during a February 12 
meeting when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov brushed off U/S 
Burns concerns over such a transfer, but did not reiterate 
Russia,s year-long position that the S-300 transfer depends 
on Iranian behavior.  The Iranian Defense Minister is 
currently in Moscow for talks with Russia on the delivery of 
the S-300.  Initial press reports quote Rosoboronexport 
officials as saying there has been no progress in the talks 
to expedite delivery of the system.  Russian news media also 
speculates that Russia will not deliver the S-300 to Iran for 
fear of upsetting discussions with the new US administration. 
 Despite the denials in the press, we are concerned by the 
technical preparations for delivery of the S-300, which are 
complete or nearing completion.  It appears that there is a 
need for action now to prevent a senior-level political 
decision to allow the delivery to go foward. 
 
4. (C) Though Russia states that the S-300 is "defensive" in 
nature, the mobile system could be used to support offensive 
operations.  S-300s located on Iranian territory would have 
the range to engage targets well beyond Iran,s borders into 
Persian Gulf and Iraqi airspace, threatening U.S. and 
regional partners. 
 
5. (SBU) UNSCR 1747, passed on March 24, 2007, urged all 
states to exercise "vigilance and restraint in the supply, 
sale or transfer" of a broad range of conventional weapons as 
defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register on 
Conventional Arms to Iran.  While the S-300 does not 
technically meet the definition within the UN Register for 
any of the categories of items listed in paragraph 6 of UNSCR 
1747, transfers of this type of system to Iran seriously 
undercut the primary objective of UNSCR 1747 to further press 
Iran to comply with the UNSCR 1737 requirement to suspend its 
proliferation sensitive nuclear activities and cooperate 
fully with the IAEA. 
 
6.  (C) We have selected action addressee posts to engage the 
GOR because we maintain strong bilateral relationships and 
share common security interests, but also because we believe 
these governments have potential leverage with Russia.  In 
particular,  Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have 
increased their political-military cooperation with Russia. 
These countries can legitimately make the point to Moscow 
that they cannot have a close political-military partnership 
with Russia, while Russia strengthens the hand of Iran, 
arguably the greatest threat to each of these nation's 
security. 
 
Suggested Talking Points 
----------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (SBU) Posts are requested to approach appropriate host 
government officials regarding the possible transfer of the 
S-300 air-defense system from Russia to Iran.   Post should 
draw from the following talking points. 
 
--In the spirit of our bilateral cooperation, we request your 
government,s support in urging Russia to not transfer a 
highly sophisticated air defense system to Iran. 
 
--In 2005 Russia signed a contract to sell the modern 
long-range S-300 air defense missile system to Iran. 
 
-- In 2006, after it was exposed that Iran was not in 
compliance with its international nuclear obligations, Russia 
assured us, it would not complete the transfer until Iran 
changed course. 
 
--Despite these assurances, we are concerned that Russia is 
in a position to deliver the S-300 to Iran as soon as a 
political decision is taken. 
 
--Moreover, when we raised our concerns in recent 
senior-level conversations with Russian officials, we were 
not reassured by the Russian response. 
 
--We request that you use your influence with Russia to 
sharpen their decision against a transfer at this time. 
 
--Though Russia has categorized the S-300 as defensive in 
nature, it is a mobile system that can easily used to support 
offensive operations. 
 
--The most modern variant of the S-300, high-performance 
surface-to-air missile system would greatly improve Iran,s 
ability to defend large regions of its airspace up to 200 km 
beyond its borders. 
 
--With Iran in non-compliance of its international nuclear 
obligations and continued meddling in regional affairs, this 
is not the time for Russia to engage in arms sales with 
Tehran. 
 
-- We are also concerned about the implications of the 
transfer of an air defense system to Iran.  Such transfers 
would undercut the broad objective of UNSCR 1747 to increase 
pressure on Iran to suspend its proliferation sensitive 
nuclear activities and cooperate fully with the IAEA by 
denying arms transfers to Iran. 
 
--(If appropriate)  We believe you have particular leverage 
given your expanded military cooperation with Russia.  You 
can legitimately argue that Moscow cannot be true partners in 
the political-military realm while simultaneously 
strengthening Iran, which is arguably the greatest threat to 
your nation,s security. 
 
End Talking Points 
CLINTON