Yesterday, we noted some of the implications of the potentially devastating missile deal between Russia and Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his concern to Vladimir Putin over the deal, as well. While Israel stands to lose the most from the deal, Yaakov Lappin writes that it is a threat to not only the Jewish state but the entire Middle East:
Middle East regional instability is set to worsen after Russia’s lifting of its ban on the delivery of the advanced S-300 air defense missile system to Iran.
Russia’s decision on April 13 to lift the ban is a highly dangerous development, which might well further destabilize the Middle East, and has serious potential to spark new conflicts.
The S-300 is one of the world’s most advanced surface-to-air missile defense systems. Designed as a truck-mounted air defense battery, it can also be used as an offensive weapon, thanks to its long range and ability to track and strike many planes simultaneously.
If Russia follows through on its pledge to deliver the S-300 to Iran, the Iranians could then smuggle these sophisticated weapons into Syria, and from there, use a cross-border network to move the missiles on to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
From Lebanon, the S-300 missiles, which have a range of 125 miles, would not only pose a threat to vital Israel Air Force activity, but could also be used by Hezbollah to target civilian air traffic over Israel, triggering a devastating Israeli response.
In addition, Iran can be expected to try to smuggle the system to the Syrian Assad regime, as it has done with so many other types of weapons. Damascus, too, would in all likelihood use the S-300 to threaten Israeli aircraft over northern Israel.
Both the Assad regime and Hezbollah might also use the S-300 to try to challenge vital missions flown by the Israel Air Force, such as intelligence-gathering flights that help Israel keep an eye on the perpetual, threatening — also Iranian-backed — developments to its north…
The impact that Russian S-300 missiles will have in the region is far wider than just on Israel and its neighbors. Iran will doubtless be tempted to smuggle S-300 batteries, together with Iranian technicians and operators, to its Houthi clients in Yemen. The Shi’ite Houthis, also proxies of Iran, are currently unable to shoot down Saudi fighter jets engaged in an air campaign to stop the Shi’ite forces from taking over all of Yemen. Receiving the Russian-made surface-to-air missiles would change that.
Most critically, Iran can use the system to harden air defenses around its multiple nuclear sites, making any potential future air attack significantly more difficult.