Putin lifts ban on Russian air defense missile sales to Iran

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — President Vladimir Putin of Russia lifted a ban on the sale of an advanced Russian missile defense system that could reinforce Iran’s defense of its nuclear facilities.

A statement released by the Kremlin said that Putin signed a decree to remove the ban on Monday.

The move signals that Russia is greatly interested in reaping profits from the resumption of international trade with Iran should a final deal be reached, The New York Times reported.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that the framework deal signed by world powers and Iran earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland, made the ban obsolete.

Russia agreed to sell Iran the S-300 defense system in 2007, but strong opposition from the United States and Israel blocked the sale. Moscow was also prevented from selling Iran the missile system in 2010 after new U.N. sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program prohibited the exchange.

Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone call to Lavrov expressed U.S. opposition to Russia’s intentions to sell the missiles.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the sale could endanger the realization of a deal that lifts sanctions on Iran.