This weekend Russia’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Levan Dzhagaryan, proclaimed to Iran’s state-controlled media that his country is ready and willing to sell Russia’s latest advanced surface to air missile systems to Iran.
The SAM system in question is NATO code-named the SA-21 Growler. It is marketed by Russia for arms sales as the S-400. It is a highly capable surface to air missile system thought to have an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capability as well as the ability to shoot down aircraft and cruise missiles at ranges as far as 250 miles and at altitudes from near sea level to as high as 90,000 feet. Russia claims that the SA-21 is capable of engaging stealth aircraft, though this has yet to be tested in combat. Originally the SA-21 was conceived to shoot down NATO AWACS aircraft, such as those employed by the US and Saudi Arabia.
Any sales of the SA-21 to Iran would greatly enhance both Iran’s air defense system and also their ability to project power in the Persian Gulf region. With such a large flight envelope and long range, the SA-21 would allow Iran to potentially dominate the Persian Gulf region and threaten the air space of other nations in the region, notably, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and Iraq. The SA-21 is obviously also a potential threat to US aircraft in the Persian Gulf area, particularly carrier-based aircraft in the Persian Gulf and the northern Arabian Sea.
The threatened sale of the SA-21 to Iran is nothing new from Putin’s Russia. Russia has already sold Iran the SA-20 Gargoyle surface to air missile system. That system has a range of over 120 miles and an anti-ballistic missile capability as well.
What all this adds up to is that Putin is providing the Ayatollahs with some of the most advanced weaponry in the world to provide them with a protective umbrella under which they can continue to be the world’s foremost terrorist sponsoring nation and serial proliferator of nuclear technology in violation of international law.