Russian image tarnished over Iran missile deal, says MP

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TEHRAN: Russia’s image as a "powerful country" that can resist US pressure will take a beating following its decision to stop the delivery of S-300 missiles to Tehran, an influential Iranian lawmaker said on Friday.

"This issue will decrease Russia’s credibility as a powerful country that can resist American pressure," Alaeddin Borujerdi, head of parliament’s foreign policy committee, told ISNA news agency.

On Thursday, Russian Technologies chief Sergei Chemezov said Moscow will reimburse Iran for its down payment on a deal for advanced S-300 ground-to-air missiles, halted in the face of tough new UN sanctions.

Chemezov said "we have annulled the contract and are returning the advance payment," which he said was 166.8 million dollars (119.3 million euros).

He estimated the entire contract at around 800 million dollars (572 million euros).

Russia had come under strong US and Israeli pressure not to go ahead with the sale of a weapons system that was seen as greatly complicating any military action against Iran.

Both Israel and the United States have refused to rule out military action to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, an ambition Iran strongly denies.

Last month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree banning supplies of S-300 missiles and other arms to Iran.

Iran has threatened to sue over what it regards as a breach of contract.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will use all legal measures according to international law to protect its rights," Borujerdi said as he continued to urge Moscow to prove its "reliability and credibility in the region."
"More than the importance of the (S-300) itself, the issue is about Russia’s credibility," he said.

"Russia’s action in this regard will forever be etched in the history of relations between the two countries and in the public opinions of the two nations as a benchmark of whether Russia is reliable."

Russia’s tougher line on Iran in recent months has coincided with a warming of its relations with the United States. Washington has repeatedly praised Moscow for its support in the nuclear standoff with Tehran.

Russia voted for the fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran on June 9, although it criticised subsequent decisions by the European Union and the United States to impose additional sanctions of their own against Tehran.

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