Russia-Iran defense deal could prompt Israeli airstrike Amid nuclear negotiations, Russian President Vladimir Putin has lifted a self-imposed ban Monday on the delivery to Iran of an air-defense missile system capable of shooting down U.S. and Israeli jets, increasing the possibility the Jewish state will launch a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear program, according to a defense expert. After Russia signed an $800 million contract with Iran in 2007, delivery of the S-300 system was halted when Moscow decided to impose a ban in response to strong opposition to the deal from Israel and the George W. Bush administration. But delivery of the S-300 air-defense system as the U.S. and its P5+1 coalition partners negotiate to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a “potential game-changer,” according to Clare Lopez, vice president at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, possibly prompting Israel to take military action before the system becomes operational. She said that while Russia has a more advanced model, the S-400, the S-300 is “sufficiently sophisticated to upgrade significantly Iran’s ability to defend against any incoming military strike against its nuclear facilities.” Once delivered by Russia and operational in Iran, she explained, it could “remove to a large extent a military option from the table in considering how to deal with Iran’s nuclear weapons program, by making it not impossible but much more difficult to conduct a successful air strike.” “I don’t know what the Israeli calculations are about how far along the Iranian program is to making a bomb,” Lopez said. “But the window is closing on the time when an Israeli military strike would be feasible, and the installation of this system will close that window further. It’s possible the Israelis might see this as a step that would limit their options once installed.” MORE