TEHRAN, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Increasingly irate over a delayed arms deal, Iran has threatened to manufacture an advanced missile system itself if Russia does not deliver it to Tehran soon.
The warning, sounded by Alaeddin Bouroujerdi, a senior Iranian lawmaker, was the latest in a series of threats by Iranian officials angered at Russia for delaying delivery a much-vaunted missile sales agreement.
"Iran is not a country to come to a halt in the face of non-cooperation of other countries," Bouroujerdi was quoted as saying in a local newspaper.
"Naturally, and in light of Iran's capabilities, it will be able to produce missile defense systems in the near future," the Aftab Yazd daily added.
The controversy centers on a deal in which Russia would supply its high-grade S-300 air defense missiles to Iran.
Moscow, however, has come under strong pressure from the West to refrain from advancing arms deals with the Islamic Republic, which is at odds with Washington over its nuclear and missile program.
Last week senior Iranian lawmakers accused the United States of trying to scupper the deal for fear that Iran may reverse-engineer the S-300 system.
"The United States and certain Western countries are afraid that the contracts between Iran and Russia in the economic, political and military sphere will increase Iran's political and military might," Hassan Sobhaninia, an Iranian member of Parliament, said.
"They are making efforts to impede the implementation of these contracts," he told the Mehr News Agency.
The S-300 system, which can shoot down cruise missiles, track targets and fire at aircraft up to 90 miles away, features high jamming immunity. It is able to simultaneously track up to 100 targets.
Mounted on a truck, the S-300MPUM1 can fire missiles traveling at more than 2 kilometers per second, experts say.
Iranian officials have not indicated what type of land-to-air-missile defense system they can manufacturer in replacement of the Russian order.
Still, Bouroujerdi said he had recently met with Russia's top envoy to Tehran, who "agreed that both sides should fulfill their commitments" regarding the missile defense deal.
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi has also called on Russia not to capitulate to "Zionist pressure" and to carry through on the deal.
Washington has been trying to extract specific pledges from Moscow for tougher sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program. The West has long argued that the program is a cover for Iran's designs to build its nuclear arsenal -- an accusation the Islamic Republic has repeatedly rebuffed.
Israel also fears that these defenses could interfere with a possible strike on its nuclear facilities.
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