Russia’s sale of the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran does not affect the U.S.’s military options against Iran, the Pentagon said Thursday.
“We’ve known about the potential for that system to be sold to Iran for several years, and have accounted for it in all of our planning,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“The military option that I owe the president, to both encourage the diplomatic solution and if the diplomacy fails to ensure that Iran doesn’t achieve a nuclear weapon, is intact,” he told reporters at the Pentagon briefing.
Russia announced on Monday that it would lift its ban on selling the surface-to-air missile system to Iran, drawing complaints from the U.S. and Israel.
The ban had been in place since 2010, when the United Nations announced an arms embargo against Iran.
The Pentagon earlier this week said the sale was “unhelpful.”
“Certainly any sale of advanced technologies is a cause of concern to us,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren on Monday, who said the issue was being raised through all appropriate channels.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who also briefed reporters, said the Pentagon takes “very seriously” the responsibility to have “options on the table” for the president in dealing with Iran.
He also said the Pentagon would continue to play a stabilizing role in the region and continue to strengthen the capabilities and confidence of allies.