Tuesday 05 Jul 2022 | 08:10 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 05 Jul 2022 | 08:10 | SYDNEY

Russia announces huge Iran arms sale


Sam Roggeveen


16 August 2010 09:37

Here are the details, via the Wall Street Journal:

MOSCOW—The Medvedev administration plans to include attack helicopters in an expanded arms package for Iran, swelling the size of the proposed deal to as much as US$60 billion over 10 years, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The deal would be the largest overseas Russian arms sale, the officials said, though the size could change as the package is finalized, one official said...

...New details about the deal include plans to sell Iran about 70 Mi-17 helicopters and up to 60 Mi-28 attack helicopters together worth about $30 billion. That comes on top of a previously disclosed $30 billion tranche that includes 84 Sukhoi Su-30s and upgrades to older fighters in the Iranian fleet.

OK, so I've changed a few key details of the WSJ piece, which is really about a record American arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

The Atlantic has reignited the debate about the merits of pre-emptive military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities with its latest cover story, but this huge arms deal has gone largely unremarked. Had Russia in fact made such a sale to Iran, it would be seen as incredibly counter-productive and would probably harm US-Russian relations. Even rumours of the sale of purely defensive Russian surface-to-air missiles (which would only be useful for shooting down aircraft that entered Iranian airspace) are viewed with deep concern in Washington.

Yet when Washington lands a US$60 billion arms package with Riyadh, including for 84 fighter aircraft that could strike deep into Iranian territory, does anyone take a breath to think about how this might affect the regional power balance or Tehran's threat perceptions'

Just to be clear, I'm not urging sympathy for Tehran here; just empathy. When you're contemplating war, it helps to know what the other fellow is thinking.