A growing body of information continues to confirm that Iran has their eyes not just on nuclear weapons, but on a means for delivering them. Inadequately noted in the mainstream press, Iran announced and Russia confirmed sale of a highly-developed missile defense system to Iran – the Russian S300 missile. Nor is this sale planned and pending; it is real and approaching full delivery. So, aside from the increasingly enigmatic “Iran Deal” which Secretary Kerry and the Obama Administration perplexingly characterize as guaranteeing the best protection agreement possible for the United States and our allies, there is another growing contagion: Missile sales by Russia to Iran.
And there is more. If the U.S. decides to halt or limit continuing acquisition of the RD-180 rocket engine, Russia will find that it has a surplus of these engines on hand. Russia has already agreed to sell its S300 system to Iran, what is to stop it from selling the RD-180 as well? The U.S. can hardly halt current production of the RD-180 rocket engine, but we can absorb its inventory thus limiting its available for Iranian purchase.
What the Iran-Russia missile deal for S300s tells us is two things. First, Iran wants missiles to protect its nuclear program, which in turn means that Iran must have the intent to essentially weaponize their nuclear program. The current variants of the S300 provide a world-class response to attacking aircraft, cruise missiles, and even ballistic missiles. Operational and capable surface to air standoff capabilities around nuclear sites would be a significant defensive counter to any attempt by the global community to react appropriately to Iran deal-breaking maneuvers. Second, Russia sees no international, geopolitical or even any internal reason to hold back in missile sales to Iran, drawing a straight line from the S300 to the sale of heavy lift missile capability to Iran.
The extremely capable Russian heavy-lift rocket engine – and the one Iran most likely wants – is the RD-180 engine. Until recently the United States had set a pick on these engines. For some twenty years now we have committed to buy, and the Russians have agreed to sell, virtually the entire annual production of the RD-180 to us.