By George Whitten, Jerusalem Bureau Chief
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (Worthy News) –- Russia and Iran are discussing major weapons deals, shortly after Tehran announced the development of an unmanned aircraft capable of striking Israel and Iranian made munitions were discovered in Iraq, Worthy News learned Friday, February 20.
Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Najar held talks with his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow this week, at a time when Iran seeks to expand its military might in the Middle East.
Russia is offering to modernize Iran’s military by selling new aircraft, including the upgraded MiG-29SMT, as well as the S-300 air defense system and naval platforms, Worthy News established.
At the center of Najar’s visit was the "implementation of a contract for the supply of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, prospects for signing new contracts and post-sale maintenance for the already supplied 29 Tor-M1 anti-aircraft systems," Russia's Interfax News Agency said.
The advanced version of the S-300 missile system has a range of over 100 miles (150 km) and can reportedly intercept ballistic missiles as well as aircraft at low and high altitudes.
With the global economic meltdown hitting Russia hard, officials in Moscow see Iran as a major market with Russian defense exports reaching $8.5 billion over the next year, according to estimates.
It came after Iranian General Ahmad Vahidi announced the development of an unmanned aircraft with a flying range of 600 miles (1,000 km) capable of reaching Israel.
The aircraft is believed to have radar-evading devices that would be able to attack an enemy target and avoid detection. Iran did not mention what kind of weaponry the droned aircraft could be capable of carrying.
Iranian Brigadier General Ali Fadavi said earlier that Iran was planning to mass-produce new unmanned military systems.
There has been concern in Israel and the United States that Iran's plans could further destabilize the region. Tehran has been accused of sponsoring terrorism, especially against Israel and U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
American and Iraqi forces have already discovered Iranian weapons in Iraq that were manufactured in Iran as recently as last year, U.S. Army Col. Philip Battaglia told reporters in Baghdad this week.
"We have found many Iranian-made munitions with a manufacture date as late as 2008, " Battaglia said. The weapons seized included hundreds of 107 mm and 122 mm rockets, as well roughly 500 deadly bombs, the U.S. military said.
Iran has denied it seeks war, but remarks from one of its main military leaders didn't sound reassuring. "Our strength should not be underestimated. It is not restricted to [our] geographical borders," said Iranian General Mohammad Reza Naghdi in translated remarks on Al-Manar TV provided by Middle East Media Research Institute.
He stressed Iran could eventually target Israel, if provoked. "If the Zionist entity decides to carry out such a stupid act, our responses will be crushing and decisive. Our power is not limited to the missiles and the air force. Our response will be the liberation of Jerusalem."
Naghdi said Iran "will choose on what land to fight." He added that, Iran's missile and air force capabilities "do not fall short of those" of its "enemy".