Russian sales of S-300 and Tor anti-air missiles to Iran recall Russia supplying SAM-5 missiles to Egypt in 1972-73. The missile launchers are mobile and thus not defensive at all. They rather provide a defensive shield for the enemy’s assault. Egypt attacked Israel while protecting themselves with SAM-5 batteries against Israeli air reprisal. Iranians would similarly move the mobile Tor-M1 launchers to protect their nuclear weapon facilities. The Russian missiles defend Iran’s attack capabilities.

The Russian economy is now very open. It depends on oil exports, foreign investment, and money laundering. That makes Russia vulnerable to Western sanctions for aiding the enemy. More important, the West should again discredit Russian weapons by demonstrating their low utility in confrontations with modern armies. Arabs accept free Soviet weapons regardless of their quality but will think twice before paying for arms they can use only against other tribes, not Israel.

Tor-M1 operates against two targets, and with 29 Tor systems, Iran couldn’t defend its nuclear facilities against more than 58 missiles simultaneously. Israel could launch more. Tor’s advantage—low intercept altitude—is also a disadvantage because Iran lacks sufficient defenses for the 15-mile+ radius. Russian military manufacturers have abandoned their penchant for vacuum tube electronics, and Tor-M1’s semiconductor electronics is vulnerable to the electro-magnetic pulse impact of a high-altitude nuclear explosion.

Don’t decry Russian arms sales to the enemy. Counter them.