Israel urges Moscow to halt Iran sale

MOSCOW (JTA) — A senior Israeli defense official visited Moscow in an attempt to dissuade Russia from selling missile defense systems to Iran.

Amos Gilad, the head of the defense ministry’s Security-Diplomatic Bureau, traveled to the Russian capital Wednesday to explain Israel’s opposition to the deal.

At the same time, Israeli defense officials continued to waver on the sale of a batch of unmanned aerial drones to Russia, which has been unsuccessful at creating its own pilotless drone program. The purchase would be Moscow’s first ever from Israel.

Some evidence suggests that Israel may be holding out on the drones as leverage to keep the S-300 missile systems from going to Iran, according to a report in the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency.

"We are working on this issue," said Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the head of Russia’s armed forces, according to the Interfax news agency. "We are considering a test batch of Israeli drones."

Israel is concerned that the S-300 missile system could be sold to Syria or Iran and hinder any first strike capability.

In an unrelated deal, Russia said this week it would include 10 MiG-29 fighter jets to Lebanon as part of a military aid package. The used Russian planes will be overhauled, restored and handed over to the Lebanese government.

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