Russia has lifted a ban on missile systems sales to Iran, the first move by a major power to get a head start in the race to benefit from a nuclear deal with Tehran.
The move comes after Russia, the United States and other world powers reached an interim deal with Iran this month to curb its nuclear program.
President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ending a self-imposed ban on sales of S-300 anti-missile rocket systems to Iran after Moscow canceled a contract in 2010 under pressure from the West, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Russia also began an oil-for-goods swap with Iran.
It has started supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil, the report said, citing a Russian official.
US officials said Russia’s decision to deliver a missile system to Iran will not affect ongoing talks on a final nuclear deal but US Secretary of State John Kerry raised his concerns with his Russian counterpart.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest did not provide details of Kerry’s exchange with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“It was an opportunity for Secretary Kerry to raise our concerns,” Earnest said.
Sources told Reuters more than a year ago that a deal worth up to US$20 billion was being discussed and would involve Russia buying up to 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day.
Officials from the two countries have issued contradictory statements since then on whether a deal has been signed but Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday one was already being implemented.
Iran is the third largest buyer of Russian wheat. Moscow and Tehran have been discussing the oil-for-goods barter deal for more than a year.
Russia hopes to reap economic and trade benefits if a final deal is concluded to build on the framework agreement reached in the Swiss city of Lausanne between Iran and six world powers — Russia, the United States, France, Britain, Germany and China.
They have until June 30 to work out a detailed technical agreement under which Iran would curb its nuclear program and allow international control in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions.
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