Putin tells Sarkozy no missile sale to Iran: official

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday that Moscow will not sell air defence missiles to Iran in line with UN sanctions, a French official said.

Putin told the French leader that Moscow's decision to support a new round of sanctions against Tehran would have a "very heavy cost", the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters.

"The Iranians are very unhappy and will impose penalties for breaking the contract," the official quoted Putin as saying.

Aides to President Dmitry Medvedev had earlier said that the deal for the S-300 missiles would likely be scrapped, but that a formal decision would come in a decree.

Sarkozy praised the Russian leadership for supporting the sanctions during a luncheon meeting with Putin at the Elysee place.

"It is an extremely courageous measure that will cost Russia a lot," Sarkozy told the Russian prime minister, according to the official.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday slapped a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear drive, this time tightening the noose on military and financial transactions.

The resolution bans the sale to Iran of eight new types of heavy weapons and applies new restrictions on Iranian investments abroad.

Russia never made a secret of its deal to sell the powerful S-300 system to Iran and for years insisted that the move would in no way upset the balance of power in the Middle East.

However despite years of talking about it, Russia never went ahead with delivery of the system, which military experts had said could have enhanced Iran's defences of its nuclear facilities against attack from the air.

The United States on Thursday acknowledged that the latest UN sanctions did not explicitly ban the S-300 sale to Iran, but nonetheless heaped praise on Moscow for its "restraint" in not going ahead with the deal.

© 2010 AFP

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