Iran has made yet another appeal to Russia to deliver advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems.

Tehran’s hopes were buoyed last month when Russian President Vladimir Putin suddenly lifted the suspension of the delivery, agreed under a 2010 contract.

However, the hopes were soon dented. Iranian Defense Hossein Dehghan said the Islamic Republic expected the first S-300s by the end of 2015. Russian officials made it clear that there was no intention to provide the systems so quickly. Concern rose in Tehran that Putin’s announcement was merely to put a bit of political pressure on the US and its allies amid the talks on Iran’s nuclear program, seeking a comprehensive agreement by June 30.

On Monday, Revolutionary Guards commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili made the latest appeal, giving assurances that Iran would not “steal” the technology in the S-300 to produce domestic versions, including for offensive capabilities.

“S-300 is an operational system and doesn’t need reverse engineering,” Esmaili said. “Since the S-300 is a defensive and operational system, it will be deployed in specific spots and will not be reverse engineered.”

Esmaili also assured that Iranian technicians have undergone the necessary training to work with the S-300s.

The S-300, first deployed by the Soviet Union in 1979, has a range of up to 300 kilometers (185 miles), with radar which can guide up to 12 missiles simultaneously.

Head of Basij Militia Attacks Khomeini’s Grandson and Former President Rafsanjani

The commander of Iran’s Basij-militia, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, has launched another hardline attack against the grandson of the late Ayatollah Khomeini and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani:

Those who are living aristocratic and leisurely lives can’t interpret the statements of the Imam [Khomeini] since the Imam lived an ascetic and minimal life….Those who are trying to show the gates of the green garden to the unjust [those who are trying to normalize relations with the United States] and child killers and are giving the green light to collaboration with the Arrogance [the US], are not qualified to interpret the message of Imam Khomeini.

The Imam had always the spirit of struggling against injustice and the bullies, he was wholeheartedly anti arrogance and each cell of his body chanted the slogan: “Death to America”.

Hardliners have repeatedly denounced Khomeini and Rafsanjani since the disputed 2009 Presidential election, including shouting down Khomeini at a memorial service for his grandfather and barring the former President from leading Tehran Friday Prayers.

Last month Khomeini said he had been warned not to make speeches in Golestan Province in northeast Iran.

The latest criticism comes days after Rafsanjani used a speech at Amir Kabir University in Tehran to make a veiled challenge to the Supreme Leader, comparing him to a 19th-century Shah widely seen as a tyrant.

See Iran Feature: Ex-President Rafsanjani Challenges Supreme Leader as a “Tyrant”

Another Warning for Iranian Negotiators as Nuclear Talks Resume

There is another warning shot for Iran’s nuclear negotiators as talks resume in Vienna this morning, seeking a comprehensive deal by a June 30 deadline.

The Supreme Leader continues to back the discussions, he said last Wednesday that the Iranian team should not negotiate under the “ghost of a threat” from the US, following statements by high-level American officials repeating that “all military options” are “on the table” if diplomacy fails.

On Monday, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, went farther:

This is our recommendation to the nuclear negotiation team: Should the United States, try to use the language of intimidation, threats and humiliation in an attempt to get the upper hand in the negotiations, they should leave the arena of negotiations…,They should leave the issue to us, so we can deal with them in an atmosphere of threats.

Meanwhile, the lead Iranian negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, maintained optimism that a “single agreed text” can be delivered “although we still have lots of brackets”: “We think that we can do that even before the deadline.”

Araqchi resumed talks, which adjourned last Thursday in New York after 200 hours of discussion of the draft text, with the European Union’s deputy foreign policy head Helga Schmid in Vienna today.

He said Iran can join the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while repeating, “All economic and financial sanctions should be terminated on the day that we start to implement the final deal.”

Iranian State Media Uses Academic to Declare: Saudi Arabia Now Worse Than Israel

Iranian State media has used an academic to announce that Saudi Arabia “commits even worse crimes” than Israel.

Press TV features the declaration of Tehran University’s academic, Mohammad Marandi, that Saudi intervention in Yemen’s civil war is more destructive than Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The program did not go exactly as planned, however. A Beirut-based analyst, Jihad Mouracadeh, resisted the interviewer’s prompting: “No, there is no similarity whatsoever. [The Israeli occupation of] Gaza…has nothing to do with…Saudi Arabia and rebels in Yemen.”

Marandi’s response: “Your guest in Beirut sounds like an Israeli spokesperson.”

The discussion then degenerates into a shouting match filled with insults.