Russia is ready to demonstrate the Strelets anti-aircraft missile to Israel in a bid to prove they pose no danger to the Jewish state if sold to Syria, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov was quoted by United Press International as saying during an interview with Israel’s Channel 1 TV.
The Russian official is in Israel to attend Tuesday’s inauguration of the new Holocaust Museum.
Ivanov recalled that in 2002, after Israel expressed concern over the planned sale of Igla anti-aircraft missiles, Russian President Vladmir Putin promised that arms would not be sold to any area where it might cause a dispute.
Putin announced the deal with Syria on Feb. 16 and afterwards informed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Later Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov explained that Strelets missiles are short-range and purely defensive, posing no threat to Israel. He also added that the weapons could not be used by terrorists because they needed to be mounted on a vehicle, a patrol boat or a helicopter.
Igla-R missiles, which Russia earlier planned to sell to Syria, are shoulder-launched autonomous portable systems. Otherwise, the tactical and technical characteristics of the Strelets and the Igla are the same.