Israel is reportedly set to send a top security official to Moscow to pressure Russia against the sale of an advanced anti-aircraft system to Iran. *
The Israeli government will send the head of political military policy in the Israeli Defense Ministry, Major General Amos Gilad, to try to press the Kremlin not to supply Iran with S-300 missile defense systems, according to /Haaretz/.
Gilad is expected to meet with the Russian chief of staff, the head of intelligence as well as senior defense officials and diplomats.
The report reveals that the Iranian nuclear program has also been put on the agenda of talks to be held during the two-day Gilad visit to Moscow.
The visit comes shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert flew to Russia in October to dissuade Russian President Dmitry Medvedev from selling the S-300 system to Iran.
â€œWe will remind them again of matters that trouble us greatly,â€ Olmert said.
There is widespread speculation that Israel views the possible sale of the sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran as a reason to expedite its preparations for a military attack on the country.
The advance version of the S-300 system, the S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle), can intercept 100 ballistic missiles and aircraft at once, at low and high altitudes within a range of over 150 km.
According to intelligence officials familiar with the defense capabilities of the S-300, the missile system would effectively rule out an Israeli war against Iran.
â€œIf Tehran obtained the S-300, it would be a game-changer in military thinking for tackling Iran,â€ says long-time Pentagon advisor Dan Goure.*
â€œThis is a system that scares every Western air force,â€ he said, adding that it â€œcould be a catalyst for Israeli air attacks before itâ€™s operational.â€
It will takes up to a year for the system to become operational.
A June report by the /New York Times/ revealed that Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier in the month that appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing of Iranian nuclear installations.
More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece.
Later reports claimed that Greece, which is equipped with the same version of the S-300 surface-to-air missile, had assisted the Israeli Air Force in studying the system*.
While Israel continues preparations to launch air strikes against Iran, Washington has deployed an advanced radar facility in Israelâ€™s Negev desert over fears that Iran would launch a retaliatory attack.
The radar has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) and is operated by a permanent 120-strong US Army staff.
To further steel Israel for military action against Iran, the Pentagon agreed in September to provide Tel Aviv with Guided Bomb Unit-39 bunker busters developed to penetrate fortified facilities located deep underground — such as Iranâ€™s underground nuclear complex in Natanz.
Addressing mixed media reports regarding the existence of an actual S-300 missile deal with Iran, Anatoly Isaikin, general director of Russiaâ€™s state arms export agency Rosoboronexport said in September that â€œRussia is negotiating a partial sale of advanced anti-aircraft systems to Iran.â€
Referring to Israeli and US pressure on Russian defense companies for military cooperation with Iran, Isaikin said, â€œThere are no international restrictions that would stop Moscow from providing air defense systems to Iran.â€