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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Says Sanctions Don't Ban Russian Missiles

DAMASCUS, Syria — A senior Iranian official said Thursday that new UN sanctions do not ban Russia from delivering sophisticated air defense missiles to Iran as agreed under a 2007 contract, countering the Russian stance.

Iran's parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said the contract for delivery of the powerful S-300 air defense missiles to Iran was concluded before the UN Security Council approved new sanctions last month.

"It is an old contract, therefore it has nothing to do with the … resolution. Moreover, it is a defensive weapon," Larijani told reporters on a visit to Damascus.

Last month, the Russian government said the new UN sanctions prevent Russia from delivering S-300 missiles to Iran.

Speaking to reporters in Damascus on Thursday, Larijani denied any tension between Iran and Russia but added that there were some "fluctuations" in Russia's position toward Iran.

Russia supported a fourth round of UN sanctions imposed last month to curtail Iran's nuclear program, because of concerns that it is developing weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear development program is for peaceful goals.

But Russia criticized additional U.S. and EU sanctions against Iran, hitting more than three dozen additional companies and individuals. Russia said the West went too far with additional penalties.

Israel and the United States have long urged Russia not to give Iran the powerful ground-to-air missile system. Russia signed a deal to sell the missiles in 2007 but delayed their delivery even before the latest sanctions were approved.

The truck-mounted S-300 missiles can target aircraft, low-flying cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, according to weapons experts.

Larijani said Thursday at the news conference in Damascus that the new UN sanctions would affect his country "very little."