TEHRAN - Iranian officials said yesterday that they had taken delivery of advanced Russian air-defense missile systems - weapons intended, according to a Russian news agency, to defend Iran's major nuclear facilities.
Announcement of the delivery of the Tor-M1 mobile missile launchers came as Iran began three days of military maneuvers, its first since the U.N. Security Council approved sanctions against the country Dec. 23.
"We have had constructive defense transactions with Russia, and we purchased Tor-M1 missiles that were recently delivered to us," the official Web site of Iranian state television quoted Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar as saying.
Najjar did not say how many missiles had been delivered or when they arrived. Previously, Russia had said it would supply 29 of the mobile surface-to-air missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract signed in December 2005, Russian media have reported.
According to Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency, the weapons were expected to be used to protect major government and military installations such the nuclear facilities at Isfahan, Bushehr and Tehran and in eastern Iran.
ITAR-Tass on Tuesday quoted Sergei Chemezov, the head of the country's state-run weapons exporter, as saying that the Tor-M1 missiles were delivered before the end of December.
It is not clear whether the sale was completed before the Security Council vote. Russian officials repeatedly have said the sale would not violate international obligations.
The United States called last year for a halt to international arms exports to Iran and for an end to nuclear cooperation with Iran, to pressure it to stop uranium enrichment. Israel also has criticized arms deals with Iran.