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Netanyahu Tells Putin Israel 'Dismayed' By Missile Decision

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Russian President Vladimir Putin to express Israel's "dismay" with the Kremlin decision to supply S-300 missiles to Iran.

Netanyahu's office said in a statement that he told Putin on April 14 that Moscow's lifting of a ban on the sale of the missiles to Tehran will "only increase Iran's aggression in the region and will destabilize security in the Middle East."

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin, who issued a decree the previous day lifting the self-imposed ban, told Netanyahu that the S-300 system is "designed purely for defensive purposes" and would not threaten Israel's security.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz referred to the Kremlin's decision on April 14 by saying Israel is "very disturbed" and that is is "wrong."

He added that "we think that it will convey the wrong message to the Iranians that they can get such kind of weapon while sponsoring terrorism all over the Middle East. I think that this is another negative impact or consequence of the Lausanne framework."

Ali Shamkhani, deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said in Moscow on April 14 that Tehran believes Russia will deliver S-300 missile systems to the Middle East nation this year and that ending the ban would "help further promote" Russian-Iranian ties.

The secretary of Putin's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said it would "take time" for manufacturers to prepare the deliveries.

"I believe they will need at least six months to complete this work," Interfax quoted Patrushev as saying.

His remarks could raise questions about the intentions of Russia, which has used the potential delivery of S-300 missiles to Iran as a tool in diplomacy with Tehran and the West for years.

Russia imposed the ban and scrapped an $800 million contract to supply Iran with S-300s in 2010 after backing a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran -- including restrictions on arms trade -- over nuclear activities Western nations fear are aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Patrushev told reporters that Russia decided to go ahead with the contract because "the international situation has changed."

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that there is now no legal barrier to supplying S-300 missiles to Iran -- but did not say when they might be delivered.

Following Russia's announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 14 urged countries that imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program to maintain a unified approach in lifting the sanctions.

"I urge people to lift those sanctions together, as far as possible," Merkel said after being asked about Russia’s decision, adding that Iran and the six world powers have a lot of work to do in order to finalize the nuclear deal.

Peskov also confirmed that Russia has begun implementing an oil-for-goods barter deal with Iran, as suggested by a senior Russian diplomat on April 13.

Reuters reported that sources told the news agency a year ago that a $20 billion barter deal was being discussed that would allow Russia to buy up to 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

There have been contradictory statements from both Iran and Russia about whether the barter deal is in place.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on April 13 that "in exchange for Iranian crude oil supplies, we are delivering certain products. This is not banned or limited under the current sanctions regime."

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said talks aimed at reaching a final agreement to curb Tehran's controversial nuclear program will resume on April 21.

Zarif said in Madrid on April 14 that Iranian and EU officials along with representatives from France, Britain, Germany, China, Russia, and the United States will begin "drafting the text" of a permanent agreement.

Zarif did not say where the talks will be held.

A final deal must be agreed to by June 30.

Zarif said he thinks "we are close to a deal" but added that the "United States and some of our friends in Europe" must change their position on how to removing the sanctions.

Zarif added that Iran will take "irreversible steps" with its nuclear program if the other countries do the same.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, ISNA, and AFP