Russia halts sale of air defense missiles to Iran
Washington Post / Glenn Kessler and Keith B. Richburg

Russia has frozen the sale of S-300 air defense missiles to Iran, Russian news agencies reported Friday, in a victory for the Obama administration in the wake of new U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran.

The sanctions ban the sale of eight categories of conventional weapons, including "missiles and missile systems," but a loophole in the language of the resolution suggested that defensive ground-to-air missile systems such as the S-300 were not covered by the ban. On Thursday, the day after the U.N. Security Council vote, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman indicated that the $800 million sale was still on and would not be affected by the sanctions.

But on Friday, the Kremlin contradicted that suggestion. "S-300s fall under these sanctions," a Kremlin official was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. "Therefore, these type of weapons cannot be supplied to Iran." The statement was amplified by news reports out of France, where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met Friday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that Putin had told Sarkozy that Russia would "freeze the delivery of the S-300 missiles."

U.S. officials have pressed Russia hard for a commitment not to go ahead with the sale. "For the first time, the resolution calls for states to exercise vigilance and restraint in the sale or transfer of all other arms and related materiel," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington. "We appreciate Russia's restraint in the transfer of the S-3... >>>

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