In parallel with reports of Israel’s preparations for a possible attack on Iran and a visit by the Israeli prime minister to the United States, Iran inaugurated a command and control facility of the Hazrat Masumeh Air Defense Group (HM ADG) around the nuclear site in Fordow in the Qom district. Iran’s military air defense commander Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard inaugurated the headquarters, saying that Iran was expanding its air defense system and “the enemy cannot even think of attacking Iran.” He praised Iran’s air and cyber defense systems, saying they were very technologically advanced.1 The HM ADG was formed in 2009 to protect the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP).
Fordow is an underground facility for enriching uranium using IR2-M centrifuges. In January, Iran began enriching uranium at the facility to 20 percent. At the same time, the Natanz enrichment facility in Isfahan began enriching uranium to 60 percent with advanced IR-6 and IR- 4 centrifuges.2 A fire broke out in the Natanz facility in April 2021.
In January 2013, an explosion occurred at a facility in Fordow and at a nearby electrical facility.
Mahdi Farahi, deputy defense minister, said that Iran would soon launch a new and more advanced version of the Iranian-built Bavar-373 air defense system that may be at the same or higher level than the advanced Russian air defense system S-400. Iran unveiled Bavar-373 in August 2019 after it independently developed a system in response to Russia’s prohibition on exporting the Defense S-300 system to Iran. Iran claimed that the new system was capable of identifying 300 targets simultaneously, tracking 60 of them, engaging six targets simultaneously, and even resist attempts to jam the system.3
If the Iranian system is better than the Russian system, it will be able to hit targets within 400 km., said Dmitry Shugaev, director of the Russian Military-Technical Cooperation Service in June. During a visit to the ARMY-2020 exhibition in Russia, the Iranian defense minister was interested in several Russian air defense systems, including the S-400.
In October 2020, international sanctions prohibiting arms sales to Iran expired, but if Iran purchases the Russian S-400, Russia will be open to U.S. sanctions under the U.S. law, Countering Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
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