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Iran Says Russia Should Fulfill Missile-Defense Deal

Major General Hassan Firuzabadi: "We are unhappy with the Russian friends up north."
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- A senior Iranian military official complained publicly today over Russia's failure to deliver a missile-defense system that Washington does not want Iran to have.

Moscow, which is under Western pressure to distance itself from Tehran, has not followed through on proposals to supply high-grade S300 air-defense missiles to the Islamic state.

"We are unhappy with the Russian friends up north," said Major General Hassan Firuzabadi, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces and a member of Iran's Supreme National Security Council in comments carried on state news agency IRNA.

"Why don't the defensive S300 missiles get permission to be sent for the purpose of Iran's defense, as agreed between the two countries? It has been more than six months since they should have been delivered to Iran by Russia."

He added: "Won't the Russian strategists take into consideration Iran's geopolitical importance in the security of this country?"

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Russia last month for failing to provide the arms to Iran, which is at odds with the West over its nuclear and missile program.

Washington has sought specific pledges from Russia for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear energy program, which the West suspects is intended to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran denies any such intention.

'New Chapter In Breaking Promises'

The head of the Iranian parliament's foreign policy and national security committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, also raised fears that Russia would renege on the missile deal, saying that would be a "new chapter in breaking promises by the Russians."

The truck-mounted S-300PMU1, known in the West as the SA-20, can shoot down cruise missiles and aircraft. It can fire at targets up to 150 kilometers away and travel at more than two kilometers per second.

Israel, which is thought to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, has hinted it could attack Iran in an effort to stop its arch enemy obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran has threatened to retaliate for any attack by firing medium-range missiles at Israel.

Firouzabadi also expressed support for the idea of sending nuclear fuel abroad for enrichment.

A draft deal with the United States, Russia, and other powers calls on Iran to send some 75 percent of its uranium abroad to be turned into fuel for a Tehran research reactor that makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

But Iran has not signed up to the deal, with some officials saying Tehran might prefer to buy reactor fuel from foreign suppliers in an apparent as-yet unresolved internal debate.

"We will not be damaged by the exchange of [nuclear] fuel. Rather by receiving fuel with 20 percent enrichment as needed by the reactors, some 1 million people would take advantage of its medical possibilities annually," Firouzabadi said.