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Hugo Chavez picks up Iran’s S-300 missiles

Just days after it agreed not to sell advanced anti-aircraft weaponry to Iran, Russia turned around and sealed a deal on the S-300 surface-to-air missile with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. The arms sale is part of a $2.2 billion military loan package provided by Moscow, and it has at least one observer worried that the missiles ...

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(FILES) A picture taken on April 9, 1992 shows a Russian S300 missile burning away from its pad in Priozorsk during a training launch. Russia on December 22, 2008 denied that it was delivering sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, following reports it was about to supply the weapons to the US arch-foe. AFP PHOTO FILES / VLADIMIR GERDO (Photo credit should read VLADIMIR GERDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Just days after it agreed not to sell advanced anti-aircraft weaponry to Iran, Russia turned around and sealed a deal on the S-300 surface-to-air missile with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. The arms sale is part of a $2.2 billion military loan package provided by Moscow, and it has at least one observer worried that the missiles will mysteriously wind up in Iranian hands:

If this system is delivered, it is an indirect provocation against the US as a proliferation of advanced weapons in this hemisphere. Another concern is that Venezuela might be a party to a tripartite arrangement with Iran and Russia whereby the S-300 in some form ends up in Iran despite the sanctions, after passing through Venezuela.

Bringing Chavez into play is cause for some concern, but considering how many other countries are allegedly in posession of the S-300, Venezuela’s acquisition of the weapon seems like a drop in the risk bucket. The larger issue at stake ought to be Russia’s rapidly expanding involvement in the global arms trade.

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