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Russia defends decision to ban S-300 missile sale to Iran


S-300 air defence missile systems. A file photo.

BEIJING (AFP): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday defended Moscow's refusal to supply Iran with S-300 air defence missiles, saying such a sale would violate UN Security Council sanctions.

Last week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree banning supplies of the missiles and other arms to Tehran, which is engaged in a standoff with the international community over its nuclear drive.

"These supplies fall under an embargo that the (UN) Security Council has introduced and force majeure applies here," Lavrov told reporters travelling with Medvedev, who was in Beijing as part of a three-day visit to China.

Force majeure is a common clause in contracts that exempts the parties from liability if an extraordinary event beyond the control of the parties -- in this case UN sanctions -- prevents one side from fulfilling the agreement.

When asked about reports that Tehran had threatened to sue Moscow over the non-completion of the S-300 contract, Lavrov replied: "I have heard nothing about this."

Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Borujerdi, the head of the national security and foreign affairs commission in parliament, was quoted by the IRNA official news agency on Sunday as saying Moscow could face legal action over the deal.

"If Russians refuse to deliver the S-300, it can be legally pursued and (they) will be subject to a fine," he said, adding he hoped "Russia will make good on its S-300 contract with Iran to maintain its reputation in the world."

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