By YAAKOV KATZ
If Russia goes through with the sale of its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, Israel will use an electronic warfare device now under development to neutralize it and as a result present Russia as vulnerable to air infiltrations, a top defense official has told The Jerusalem Post.
Russian S-300 missiles.
The Russian system, called the S-300, is one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world today and has a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12 at the same time. It has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 27,000 meters.
While Russia has denied that it sold the system to Iran, Teheran claimed last year that Moscow was preparing to equip the Islamic Republic with S-300 systems. Iran already has TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles from Russia.
Mixed media reports have emerged recently regarding the possible delivery of the system to Iran. Two weeks ago Reuters quoted a senior Israeli official who said the system would be delivered to Iran by the end of the year. In response, the Pentagon released a statement rejecting the assessment and saying that the US did not believe Iran would get it in 2008.
According to the Israeli defense official who spoke to the Post, "no one really knows yet if and when Iran will get the system."
A top IAF officer also said this week that Israel needed to do "everything possible" to prevent the S-300 from reaching the region.
"Russia will have to think real hard before delivering this system to Iran, which is possibly on the brink of conflict with either Israel or the US, since if the system is delivered, an EW [electronic warfare] system will likely be developed to neutralize it, and if that happens it would be catastrophic not only for Iran but also for Russia," the defense official said.
Neutralization of one of the main components of Russian air defense would be a blow to Russian national security as well as to defense exports. "No country will want to buy the system if it is proven to be ineffective," the official said. "For these reasons, Russia may not deliver it in the end to Iran."
Also on Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told an Italian paper that a nuclear Iran would be "dangerous to world order."
Barak emphasized that all options for dealing with threat of a nuclear Teheran were "open and ready," and stressed the importance of "strengthening and accelerating economic sanctions against Iran."
"Either way, we need to keep every option open. If they provoke us, or they attack us, our army is prepared to attack and to succeed uncompromisingly," he asserted in an interview with the daily Corriere della Sera . "It's up to us to find the best way to get the best result with minimum damage," Barak added.
"Iran confirmed its message when it stood against the whole world: to deceive and to reject. Their aim is to obtain an atomic bomb," he continued.
The defense minister also spoke of the results of the Second Lebanon War, telling the Italian paper, "Two years ago, we saw the price that's paid for a lack of an experienced leadership. Nevertheless, today we're equipped with a good understanding to prevent this from happening again."
He added that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought an end to the war was inefficient since Hizbullah, Syria and Iran were doing what they wanted in Lebanon.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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