US welcomes Russian 'restraint' on Iran missile sale
The United States on Thursday welcomed Russian "restraint" in not delivering promised S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.
"Russia has exercised responsibility, restraint and has not delivered those missiles to Iran," said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
Crowley noted that the missiles are not included in Wednesday's UN sanctions resolution against Iran passed by the Security Council, but said "we have recognized and appreciated the restraint that Russia showed up to this point."
The resolution however, he said, calls for the first time for states "to exercise vigilance and restraint in the sale or transfer of all other arms and related material."
Russia had agreed the missile deal several years ago but never delivered the weapons amid pressure from the United States and Israel, which fear they would dramatically improve Iran's defensive capabilities.
Its failure to deliver the missiles has disappointed Iran's Islamic leadership and become a major sticking point in once strong bilateral ties.
The UN Security Council's fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear drive imposed broader military and financial restrictions on the Islamic republic.
The resolution notably bans the sale to Iran of eight new types of heavy weapons and applies new restrictions on Iranian investments abroad.
Russia's foreign ministry said Thursday the contract to deliver S-300 air defense missiles to Iran was not affected by the new UN sanctions, after claims the deal would be frozen.
Asked whether there would be any US role in the matter, Crowley said Washington has had "conversations" with Moscow on the topic and "Russia will make its own determination as how to proceed or not."
© 2010 AFP