"Russian president Vladimir Putin and Syrian president Bashar Assad, who arrived in Moscow Monday, January 24, will sign a $70 million deal for the
sale of 20 SA-18 Igla-S batteries mounted on Armored Personnel Carriers. One of the most effective missiles against low-flying aircraft on the market,
the SA-18 is manufactured at the Russian KBM factory near Moscow.
The sale culminates intense quiet exchanges conducted by the US Pentagon and State Department with the Kremlin and Russian defense ministry to prevent
the sale to Damascus of the shoulder-launched version of the SA-18 for fear it falling into the hands of Iraqi guerrillas and Hizballah terrorists.
Washington accepted the APC-mounted compromise despite Israel’s complaints. Although 20 batteries do not present a major headache for the Israeli
air force, their mobility makes them difficult to target and limits the maneuverability of Israeli planes in Syrian airspace as a deterrent to
Damascus war or terror initiatives. The Igla-S is also effective against small targets like reconnaissance drones, helicopters and cruise missiles.
Missile experts report that when fired against fighter craft an Igla-S has the effectiveness of two missiles fired in a single round – or five
missiles when launched against a cruise missile.
This is Syria’s second important arms purchase in recent months. DEBKAfile’s military sources were first report its acquisition in East Europe of
Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles. This purchase provoked a warning from Washington that if this weapon should turn up in Iraq or Lebanon, America will
be free to take military action.
DEBKAfile’s military sources now reveal that the Syrian missile sale is integral to the Kremlin’s new, broad strategic initiative that encompasses
secret military assistance to Tehran as well as its overt deals with Damascus. Moscow’s objective is partly to secure its investment in Iran’s
nuclear center at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf against the fate of the Saddam Hussein’s French-built Tamuz nuclear center which the Israeli air force
bombed out existence 24 years ago.
In the second week of January, Russian defense minister Sergey Ivanov spent five days in Washington setting up the February 24 summit meeting between
Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in the Slovak capital of Bratislava.
That same week, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 189 revealed that Russian experts from the Raduga OKB engineering group in Dubna near Moscow had just completed the
installation of two advanced radar systems around the Bushehr nuclear reactor on the Persian Gulf.
These improved mobile 36D6 systems, Western codenamed Tin Shield, were custom-made to upgrade the air defense radar protecting Iran’s key nuclear
facilities from American or Israeli aerial, missile or cruise missile attack.
If that was all, it might have passed without too great a hullabaloo.
However, the fat hit the fire when the Russians were discovered to be building the same system at Iran’s uranium enrichment plants for military
purposes in Isfahan in central Iran. It was taken to mean that Moscow has undertaken to secure all of Iran’s nuclear industry from top to bottom –
from the installation of sophisticated equipment to military planning and operational cooperation - against American or Israeli attack. Moscow has
thus placed a serious impediment in the path of any American and Israel military action to curb Iran’s nuclear armament."
If one reads close enough this is a stategic move to enable Iran to defend its nuke sites from airstrikes. It would appear Russia has returned to the
USSR days....................or have simply been bought off by Iranian Oil money.
[edit on 26-1-2005 by DrHoracid]