Will Russia deliver an S-300 or S-400 missile system to Iran before 1 January 2016?
Iran and Russia have been in negotiations over the transfer of an advanced missile system to Iran (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-02/russia-may-start-s-300-deliveries-to-iran-by-early-2016 ; http://www.businessinsider.com/why-russian-s-300-sale-to-iran-is-a-big-deal-2015-6 ; http://www.ibtimes.com/russian-s-300-missile-sale-iran-will-go-ahead-despite-us-nuclear-deal-2020762 ).
GJ has decided to cancel the question (#3) about whether Russia would deliver the S-300 or S-400 missile system to Iran because new evidence suggests that the initial decision to close the question as a "yes" was made based on premature announcements. The question will be removed from the GJP Classic and scores will be updated to reflect this decision as soon as technologically feasible.As mentioned in the initial closing announcement, GJ decided to close the question as a "yes" after both the Iranian and Russian ambassadors made statements confirming delivery. At the time, GJ considered this decision a very close call: Although credible western outlets had picked up the announcements, they merely repeated the ambassadors’ claims or quoted the Russian and Iranian news outlets. Because of this, GJ continued to monitor the question to see if there was further conformation in credible sources or evidence from any sources suggesting that systems had not been delivered. After a week of no further reporting, and no contradictory evidence, the question was closed.
However, contradictory evidence has now emerged that shows the initial decision to close the question as a yes was premature (http://tass.ru/en/defense/846876, http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=251773,http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/205488#.Vn3HsiFg, http://en.trend.az/world/other/2474158.html). According to new Russian and Iranian sources, the delivery will be delayed until Iran's lawsuit against Russia has been dropped and the latest estimates suggest that delivery may happen early in 2016. Because the question has been closed for almost a month and forecasters have been unable to update their forecasts in response to new developments, GJ is voiding the question rather than scoring the question as a "no."
GJ's question team is committed to asking tough geo-political questions with real-world significance. The team spends a great deal of time on the front end trying to make sure all of our questions are falsifiable. Unfortunately, resolving some of those questions using open source materials can be challenging. GJ takes every resolution decision very seriously, often consulting outside experts and tapping into additional resources to make sure that resolution decisions reflect what happened in the real world. The question team also does extensive post-mortem analyses on problematic questions so that future questions can avoid falling into similar traps. This question provided a number of important lessons that GJ plans on internalizing, including the need to take more time in resolving questions when the resolution is ambiguous, the dangers of relying only on announcements to resolve questions, and the intractability of questions about weapons transfers. Please be assured that these lessons, and others, will be applied as the team writes and resolves future questions.