Iran deploys S-300 air defense system at Fordo nuclear site

Deployment televised and followed by speech from Ayatollah who claimed “defensive” purposes; Hours later US drone reported to have entered Iranian airspace

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Iran has deployed its recently acquired S-300 missile defense system around its underground nuclear facility Fordo outside of Tehran Monday morning.

Video footage of the system at the underground nuclear site was shown on Iranian state media on Sunday, followed by a televised speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali. He claimed the system’s deployment is for “defensive” purposes and criticized the United States’ opposition to Iran’s acquiring the weapon, stating, “Continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy. The S-300 air defense system is a defensive instrument, not offensive, but the Americans did their best for Iran not to get hold of it.”

Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili claimed on Iran’s decision to deploy the S-300 system to Fordo that “Our main priority is to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities under any circumstances.”

Iran purchased its recently acquired S-300 missile defense system from Russia, the system to be fully operational by the end of 2016. In July, Iran received the missiles for the system from Russia, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stating during a showcase of the system that the “Iranian Army is the army of Islam, Islamic system and the whole Iranian nation. This army defends our establishment, homeland, laws, prestige, and national interests… If we can now proudly speak of our country’s security in such an insecure and unstable region, it is all due to having a mighty army, powerful Revolutionary Guards…”

Just hours after the televised deployment of the system, a U.S. drone was reported to have entered Iranian airspace from Afghanistan, according to Reuters. Iranian media reported that the drone had “left the area” after “Iran’s army air defense detected and warned an American drone in the eastern airspace of the country.”