Obama Abandons His ‘Red Line’ on Russia’s S-300 Sale to Iran
A senior official of US President Barack Obama’s administration said back in 2010 that the sale of Russia’s advanced S-300 anti-missile system to Iran constitutes a “red line,” but the administration has been surprisingly low key since Russia on Monday announced it is lifting the ban on the sale.
Russia signed a contract in 2007 to supply Iran with five S-300 advanced missile batteries, which can be used against aircraft or guided ballistic missiles, at a cost of $800 million.
But in 2010 Russia responded to pressure from Obama and banned the deal, with Obama officials touting it as a victory of his policy to tone down Russian proliferation and restart relations between the US and Russia.
On Tuesday the Washington Free Beacon revealed comments made by a senior Obama administration official back in 2010, who told Foreign Policy at the time that the sale that is now poised to take place is a “red line.”
The official said Obama’s administration “made clear to (then-Russian President Dmitry) Medvedev and other Russian officials that the sale of the S-300 to Iran was a red line that couldn’t be crossed.”
In the article, which was framed around “how the Obama team convinced Russia not to sell arms to Iran,” the official said “they’ve made that very clear to us for the last two years that this is not a symmetrical transaction for them and they don’t share the same threat assessment as us vis-a-vis Iran.”
“The decision (to ban the sale – ed.) was a bold one that acknowledges how important it is to us and how important Medvedev takes this reset with President Obama,” the official said at the time.
When Washington Free Beacon contacted officials in the White House and State Department, they declined to discuss the 2010 declaration stating that the S-300 deal is a “red line.”
The American response has been limited to admonitions, with State Department spokesperson Marie Harf saying “we don’t believe it’s constructive at this time for Russia to move forward with it.”
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