Russia Impinges on Israeli ‘Right’ to Bomb Iran

Exclusive: American neocons are in a lather over Russia’s decision to go ahead with the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. The apparent outrage is that Iran thinks it has a right to protect its citizens from Israel’s right to launch airstrikes into Iran’s territory, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern

The front page of the neocon flagship Washington Post on Tuesday warned that the Russians have decided, despite U.S. objections, “to send an advanced air-defense system to Iran … potentially altering the strategic balance in the Middle East.”

So, at least, says the lede of an article entitled “Putin lifts 5-year hold on missile sale to Iran” by Karoun Demirjian, whose editors apparently took it upon themselves to sex up the first paragraph, which was not at all supported by the rest of her story which was factual and fair balanced, even.

An Israeli who  joined a public campaign in 2012 to discourage an Israeli war against Iran.

An Israeli who joined a public campaign in 2012 to discourage an Israeli war against Iran.

Not only did Demirjian include much of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s explanation of Moscow’s decision to end its self-imposed restriction on the delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran, but she mentioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s umpteenth warning on Monday about “the prospect of airstrikes to destroy or hinder Tehran’s nuclear program.”

Lavrov noted that United Nations resolutions “did not impose any restrictions on providing air defense weapons to Iran” and described the “separate Russian free-will embargo” as “irrelevant” in the light of the “meaningful progress” achieved by the negotiated framework deal of April 2 in which Iran accepted unprecedented constraints on its nuclear program to show that it was intended for peaceful purposes only.

The Russian Foreign Minister emphasized that the S-300 is a “completely defensive weapon [that] will not endanger the security of any state in the region, certainly including Israel.” Pointing to “the extremely tense situation in the region around Iran, he said modern air-defense systems are vitally important for that country.” Lavrov added that by freezing the S-300 contract for five years, Russia also had lost a lot of money. (The deal is said to be worth $800 million.)

Predictably, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told Fox News that the air-defense system would be a “game-changer” for Israel regarding air strikes. According to Bolton, once the system is in place, only stealth bombers would be able to penetrate Iranian space, and only the U.S. has those and was not likely to use them.

The U.S. media also highlighted comments by popular go-to retired Air Force three-star General David A. Deptula, who served as Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance until he retired in 2010 to make some real money. Deptula called delivering the S-300 system to Iran “significant, as it complicates the calculus for planning any military action involving air strikes.”

It strikes me as a bit strange that the media likes to feature retired generals like Deptula, whose reputation for integrity are not the best. Deptula has been temporarily barred from doing business with the government after what Air Force Deputy General Counsel Randy Grandon described as “particularly egregious” breaches of post-employment rules. He remains, however, a media favorite.

Adding to his woes, Deptula was also caught with 125 classified documents on his personal laptop including 10 labeled “Secret,” 14 labeled “Top Secret” and one with the high protection of “Secret, Compartmented Information.” Deptula pleaded ignorance and was let off further proof that different standards apply to generals like Deptula and David Petraeus.

A More Subdued Tone

The S-300 announcement hit as Secretary of State John Kerry was testifying on Capitol Hill about the framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Speaking later to Fox News, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, professed shock that Kerry did not seem more upset. According to Kinzinger, Kerry actually said, “You have to understand Iran’s perspective.”

And in keeping with Kerry’s tone of sang-froid, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, referring to the S-300 deal, said, “We see this as separate from the negotiations [regarding Iran’s nuclear program], and we don’t think this will have an impact on our unity.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest took the S-300 announcement with his customary, studied earnestness. Referring not only to the decision to deliver the S-300s but also to reports of a $20 billion barter deal that would involve Russia buying 500,000 barrels of oil a day in return for Russian grain, equipment and construction materials, Earnest referred to “potential sanctions concerns” and said the U.S. would “evaluate these two proposals moving forward,” adding that the U.S. has been in direct touch with Russia to make sure the Russians understand and they do the potential concerns that we have.”

With respect to the various sanctions against Iran, I believe this nonchalant tone can be seen largely as whistling in the dark. With the S-300 and the barter deals, Russia is putting a huge dent in the sanctions regimes. From now on, money is likely to call the shots, as competitors vie for various slices of the Iranian and the Russian pie. Whether or not there is a final agreement by the end of June on the Iranian nuclear issue, Washington is not likely to be able to hold the line on sanctions and will become even more isolated if it persists in trying.

Worse still for the neocons and others who favor using sanctions to punish Russia over Ukraine, the lifting of sanctions against Iran may have a cascading effect. If, for example, the Ukrainian ceasefire holds more or less over the next months, it is possible that the $1.5 billion sale of two French-built Mistral-Class helicopter carrier ships to Russia, concluded four years ago, will go through.

The contract does not expire for two months and Russia’s state arms exporter is trying to work out a compromise before taking France to court. Russian officials are expressing hope that a compromise can be reached within the time left.

And, regarding the outrage among neocons over the audacious idea that Iran should be allowed to defend itself against airstrikes, there is the “exceptional” argument that Israel, United States and their allies should have the unchallenged right to bomb Iran or any other country as they see fit and that the targeted country should have no right to protect its people, indeed that trying to defend itself is some kind of unacceptable provocation.

There is also the hypocrisy regarding how the neocons like to differentiate between “defensive” and “offensive” weapons when the question is about giving U.S.-backed governments weapons that have dual purposes, that can be used offensively as well as defensively.

For instance, in regard to Ukraine earlier this year, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland counseled U.S. officials to portray the delivery of sophisticated U.S. military hardware to the coup regime in Kiev as “defensive,” even though the weapons had an offensive capacity, such as targeting ethnic Russian rebels firing artillery or mortars at Ukrainian troops attacking eastern Ukraine.

According to the German newspaper, Bild, which published an intercepted conversation between Nuland and U.S. officials in Munich, Germany, she said, “I’d strongly urge you to use the phrase ‘defensive systems’ that we would deliver to oppose Putin’s ‘offensive systems.’”

However, NATO Commander and Air Force General Philip Breedlove left little doubt that these “defensive” weapons would help the Ukrainian government pursue its military objectives by enabling more effective concentration of fire. “Russian artillery is by far what kills most Ukrainian soldiers, so a system is needed that can localize the source of fire and repress it,” Breedlove reportedly said.

So, when “defensive” weapons help a U.S.-backed regime kill its opponents, that’s fine. However, if some truly defensive weapons, such as anti-aircraft missiles to protect a country’s cities, go to a nation that Israel might want to bomb, then that is unacceptable.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his earlier, 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief.  He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

22 comments for “Russia Impinges on Israeli ‘Right’ to Bomb Iran

  1. Bruce walker
    April 21, 2015 at 16:05

    How guys like Adelman can get away with threatening members of congress is beyond me.he should be charged with treason. Just a thought from your neighbour from the north. We’re we think of the U.S.A. As Israel West.

  2. Nick
    April 16, 2015 at 16:00

    Definitely Iranian nuclear and other facilities must be bombed.
    It’s very sad that it wasn’t done long ago. And if US with its pussy cat president who supports terrorists all over won’t do it, Israel will do the job. It should be clear to everybody.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 18, 2015 at 14:49

      Israel will do the job.

      No, it won’t. Not unless it uses several nuclear weapons, and in that event I’d predict the end of Israel. Now if the shitty little apartheid nation can figure out a way to force/con the US into doing its dirty work once again, it might try to stir up something.

      Even before the arrival of the new AA missile batteries Israel was quite incapable of doing serious harm to Iran with conventional weapons. When the S-300++ systems arrive, the situation for a sneak attack will be even worse.

  3. April 16, 2015 at 09:42

    We will need to watch the neocon cabal, closely, in the near future…Mr Putin knows how to protect his interests and the interests of his assosciates…the Cons may become desperate at being placed in check and move quickly to attack Iranian infrastructure, before the air defense systems can be set in place….caution is needed….watch saudi airspace closely for aircraft not participating in yemen conflict….regards djl

  4. F. G. Sanford
    April 15, 2015 at 18:37

    I dozed through this article the first time; what often entertains me most are the comments. This article appeared on another site, so I checked the comments there too. [Generally speaking, I find that the ConsortiumNews readership posts comments that exhibit more insight, intuition and creativity than other sites do – but then, I flatter myself.] But one comment made me go back and read more carefully. General Deptula’s laptop! Holy crap, Batman! How do you transfer classified documents to a personal laptop? RAY, I HOPE YOU’RE READING THIS. Well, I never tried it, but I can imagine some ways! They all involve use of unauthorized email transfers, unauthorized evasion of electronic encryption, unauthorized copying of hardcopy documents, unauthorized use of external hard drives, unauthorized use of internet enabled fax machines and unauthorized transfer of documents to disc devices. Laptops authorized to process that kind of information are strictly those which are U.S. Government property, and possession of them is subject to strict accountability. This story is actually a bigger breach than the Snowden Chronicles, because whatever Snowden released had been gathered illegally in the first place. If Deptula pleaded ignorance, then he must have had help from one of the office IT geeks, so this is now a ‘conspiracy’ as well as a security breech. Encryption methods in current use would complicate electronic transfer of those documents directly to a personal device without first decrypting, producing a hard copy, and then scanning it to the personal device. The only way around that would be to get one of the office IT geeks to equip the personal device with whatever proprietary encryption program Deptula’s particular government branch was using. That means Deptula may have compromised an entire directorate by walking out the door with the Key to Rebecca! On another note, Germany equipped its WWII submarines with centimetric radar detectors made in France. The allies caught on, and developed millimetric radar to catch them unawares. Millimetric radar has been the standard ever since, and our stealth technology is designed to beat it. Those annoying Russians hesitated to give up entirely on stone age technology, and it so happens that centimetric radar is very effective at detecting our stealth bombers. Their air defense systems employ both. So, no, our bombers would not do any better than Israeli bombers at evading S-300 missiles.

    • tedbohne
      April 16, 2015 at 11:58

      a verbose vacuous diatribe.

    • Ray McGovern
      April 16, 2015 at 22:39

      Dear F.G.,

      Thanks for the comment; and let me say I never doze in reading your comments. You wrote:

      “General Deptula’s laptop! Holy crap, Batman! How do you transfer classified documents to a personal laptop? RAY, I HOPE YOU’RE READING THIS.”

      I, of course, was reading it; checked it out with some folks who know a lot more than I do about this kind of thing. I’m told the data could be transferred simply using a thumb drive.

      Best, Ray

  5. incontinent reader
    April 15, 2015 at 16:16

    Unfortunately, an Israeli military attack on Iran still remains a possibility. As Bob Parry’s article on the Israeli-Saudi connection makes clear, Saudi Arabia would probably be willing to grant overfly rights to Israel and such an attack could draw in the U.S. Furthermore, Germany, to the apparent chagrin of the EU and contrary to its policy re: Israel pending resolution of the Palestinian conflict, has now sold to Israel a sixth Dolphin class nuclear submarine, which will merely add fuel to a potentially catastrophic fire. Furthermore, these submarines can be fitted with missiles with nuclear warheads, and there is no evidence, or at least no public statement by the German government, that it has extracted a firm guarantee by Israel not to carry nuclear weapons or use the submarines to initiate an attack on Iran. I always thought Merkel and Steinmeier were two-faced about Ukraine and the Middle East. What does seem on track is Germany’s continuing support of NATO’s more than two decades agenda to make the Mediterranean a NATO lake and expand its influence in the Middle East.

    • tedbohne
      April 16, 2015 at 12:01

      yes, but this time there may be a high price for the jews to pay for terrorism. the USs time is at hand as well.

  6. coherent
    April 15, 2015 at 10:12
  7. April 15, 2015 at 08:28

    it’s Neo-fascist not Neo-con. Everything and everyone must be known by its proper name.

  8. April 15, 2015 at 05:58

    Excellent article laying bare the dangerous hypocrisy of the neo-cons/Greater-Israel zionists.

  9. Peter Loeb
    April 15, 2015 at 05:49


    Yesterday (4/14/15) the Senate Committee on International Relations UNANIMOUSLY supported strict changes in the so-called “potential framework worked out with Iran and other major powers. Israel was not represented and opposes any agreement.
    However Israel’s patron the US was among the powers represented. All points
    so far reported were in reference to Iran’s vast nuclear affairs (??) while nothing seems
    to have been agreed to about the removal of sanctions.

    Recently the Supreme Leader of Iran said:

    “Let me remind the president [of Iran] that he has pledged to bring the two sides
    to a MUTUAL agreement” that is, where “mutual” means the other side MUST
    move on its promise to remove sanctions…”

    The so-called “negotiations” with Iran have never been “negotiations” at all but
    no more than a diktat from the US (and Israel) that Iran must totally disarm. Expressed
    in other words: the US never negotiated in good faith.

    No such diktat can ever be accepted by Iran. (See the Russian statement above
    for its response).

    In several comments I have predicted this road (sometimes called the “poison pill”
    in Washington double-talk by adding restrictions, amendments, debates etc. and
    thereby making the agreement unacceptable to its original proponents). I continue
    to doubt that Iran will agree to any agreement produced by the US Senate or even
    by President Obama together with a reworked Senate “deal”. In this reworking
    the lifting of sanctions gets farther and farther away disappearing almost entirely.

    The next try, if there ever is one, should be the Israeli-US-Iranian nuclear deal and
    place Israel and the US in precisely the same position as Iran and held to the same
    rules as suggested overwhelmingly (again) by the UN General Assembly in 2014.
    Such an agreement must include the elimination of all Israeli nuclear sites, the
    elimination of all “capacity” of Israel to make a nuclear bomb, the sanction and
    embargo of Israel should any such devices the sold either overtly or covertly.
    Israel is the towering nuclear power of the Middle East and is constantly provoking
    war clearly in violation of every tenet of international war. Such a deal would be
    in effect vetoed by the US Senate but no other is possible.

    What is ahead immediately is impossible to predict at this time. A close reading of
    the Russian statement referenced above is more than relevant. In any case, despite
    Israeli (and histrionic US scaremongers), there will be NO nuclear attack on Israel.
    That Israel dislikes some of its neighbors is mirrored in some neighbors disliking
    Israel with equal fervor. Rhetorical criticism may indeed continue. A moreprofound
    analysis is not offered here.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  10. William Rood
    April 15, 2015 at 00:19

    This could be a subtle message to Congress that sanctions will not hold. France, Germany, UK and China need to send similar messages. The lunatic Congressmen that think they can scuttle the deal can actually do no more than isolate the US.

    April 14, 2015 at 23:00

    Two pleasant surprizes:
    Kerry at least temporarily off his usual war mongering stance in relation to Iran, also showing some rational understanding regarding Russian defensive system to Iran.
    Secondly, an uncommon wisdom shown by White House towards Zionist Insanity.
    Here’s hoping such wonders never cease.

  12. Zachary Smith
    April 14, 2015 at 22:38

    The title of this essay pulled a big grin out of me. Hopefully the loony political leadership of Israel won’t go nuts and attack Iran before the new defensive weapons arrive. But they are loons…

    Anyhow, virtually every news source has been calling the sale item by the name S-300. That’s definitely not correct, for Russia hasn’t even made that system for quite a few years. More likely it’s the S-300VM, quite a cut above the older model. Indeed, it would likely be able to take out Israeli medium-range ballistic missiles which happened to be heading for targets in Iran.

    No wonder the neocons and their masters in Israel are frothing at the mouth.

  13. michael
    April 14, 2015 at 22:25

    It’s about time Russia got its act together and bring some balance to the world stage. An excellent system to place in Iran because it is not an offensive weapon and will provide protection from any future bombing! Neocons have had a pretty free reign since the demise of the Soviet Union, that chapter has been closed!

  14. Boris M Garsky
    April 14, 2015 at 22:18

    Israel is finding itself in a dark tunnel surrounded by inquiring eyes. It appears that America has finally closed the door of the intelligence community on Israel. Apparently they have not been able to effectively penetrate the Iranian Government and is in a panic over its blindness and Americas refusal to continue to be its poodle. FINALLY! Israel will not bomb Iran; it had counted on America to do the dangerous and dirty work for her. The western business community is awakening to the fact that it is losing hundreds of billions in potential profit because of Israel and there may well be some mumbling in support of the Presidents efforts. Does Israel have the capacity to attack Iran? Maybe, but with a horrendous cost to its self. Can Israel defend itself against a full Iranian attack? Not a chance! In conclusion to my view, Israel will attempt to fulfill Cheneys prophesy; terrorists will strike the USA proper and probably Washington DC. I believe that the ground work, background noise, is being effected at present; several breeches of WH security; drunken SS men. And Rupert is making the most noise of all??? The American Intelligence Community along with the Pentagon should poised for alert. Russia has demonstrated that it will take decisive action in the attempt to destabilize the nation. We should take their concerns seriously. All eyes on the neocons.

    • Anonymous
      April 16, 2015 at 12:19

      The U.S. Should yank the citizen ships of all the neocon’s, and ship them to ISRAEL.

  15. Procivic
    April 14, 2015 at 21:37

    Excellent article. Israel’s campaign against Iran’s right to self-defense boggles the mind.

    The aggression in Yemen by the Saudis, the only mafia-like ruling family, is another black spot for the U.S. which is supporting the latter-day “princes”. Meanwhile, the Wahabi-inspired ISIS is destroying pre-Islamic culture in Iraq and Syria as the Taliban did in Afghanistan.

    • Man on the street
      April 16, 2015 at 12:15

      Well, bullies get their way through intimidations. If RUSSIA stands in the way of the U.S. as it destroys the ME countries one after the others, then, we will sanction Russia. That is how the mafia operate. Also, that is how the Musilm Brotherhood, ISIS, Saudi Arabia operate as well. The reason such great inhumane and unjust behaviors are happening in front of our eyes, yet we cannot see it is the media spinning facts to cover up the evil policies.

      Regarding IRAN, I don’t like the theocracy regime, and I hate to sound like I am defending the mullahs, but, here is my take. Say you and I are neighbors, and we have had problems. So, I say, tomorrow you and I will go at it. Then, I say come by yourself with no weapons! And, by the way, I will bring all my thugs with a truck load guns, and ammunitions! How do you feel about this stupid lopsided proposals? But, my press explains to the sheeple: you know we are very honorable, and he cannot be trusted to have a gun to defend himself. As much as ISRAEL has more than 200 nuclear bombs, and have carried military attacks against most of its neighbors, as much as our press is painting her as the honorable responsible part of that Iranian/Israeli conflict.

  16. incontinent reader
    April 14, 2015 at 20:36

    Ray- another excellent analysis- and thanks for including the link to Lavrov’s statement. If our media included such links, and their readers actually followed up with them and read the source material, the neocons might soon be out of business. As for Demirjian, good for her keeping to the facts (and nice you pointed it out) even if her bosses didn’t want to.

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