- Iran sells more drones and missiles to Russia
- West harshly criticizes Iran over drone issue
- Tehran under pressure from mass protests
Oct 18 (Reuters) – Iran has pledged to supply Russia with surface-to-surface missiles and more drones, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters in a move that could anger the United States and other Western nations. Great country.
An agreement was reached in October. On June 6, Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mohber, two senior officials from Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard and an official from the Supreme National Security Council visited Moscow for talks with Russia over the delivery of weapons.
“The Russians are asking for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles that are more accurate, especially the Fatah and Dhofaga missile series,” said an Iranian diplomat who was briefed on the visit.
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A Western official with knowledge of the matter confirmed this, saying there was an agreement between Iran and Russia to supply surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles, including Zolfaghar.
The Iranian diplomat dismissed claims by Western officials that such transfers violated a 2015 UN Security Council resolution.
“Where they are used is not a question of the seller. We are not taking sides in the Ukraine crisis like the West. We want to end the crisis diplomatically,” the diplomat said.
Ukraine has reported that Russia has carried out a spate of attacks in recent weeks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones. Iran has denied supplying drones to Russia, while the Kremlin on Tuesday denied that its forces had used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.
Asked if Russia had used Iranian drones in the Ukraine operation, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin had no information on its use.
“Use Russian equipment with Russian nomenclature,” he said. “All further questions should be directed to the Department of Defense.”
The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the war with Ukraine, the presence of Iranian missiles, in addition to drones, will increase tensions between Iran and the United States and other Western powers.
Shipping “quick, soon”
The U.S. State Department assessed that an Iranian drone was used in a rush hour attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday morning, a U.S. official said. White House spokeswoman Karina Jean-Pierre also accused Tehran of lying, saying Russia was not using Iranian drones in Ukraine.
One European diplomat said his country believed that given sanctions on its industrial sector, Russia found it more difficult to produce weapons on its own, and so turned to imports from partners such as Iran and North Korea.
“Drones and missiles are the logical next step,” the European diplomat said.
Asked about Iran’s sale of surface-to-surface missiles to Russia, a senior U.S. military official said: “I can’t provide any information at this time whether this is accurate as it stands.”
Under Western economic sanctions, Iran’s rulers are keen to strengthen strategic ties with Russia to counter an emerging, US-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli bloc that could shift the balance of power in the Middle East further away from the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s rulers have also come under pressure from nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman who was detained for “improperly dressed”.
Several EU countries on Monday called for sanctions on Iran’s supply of drones to Russia, as the bloc agreed to impose another set of sanctions on Tehran’s crackdown on unrest.
“They (Russians) want to buy hundreds of our missiles, even medium-range missiles, but we told them we can ship hundreds of the Zolfaghar and Fateh 110 short-range surface-to-surface missiles they asked for very quickly,” said one said security officials.
“I can’t give you an exact time, but soon, it will be in two or three batches soon.”
An Eastern European official who tracks Russian arms activity said they understood the arms deal was taking place, although he had no concrete evidence to back it up. Iranian and Russian leaders have decided to proceed with the transfer, the official said.
Another Iranian diplomat said Moscow had specifically requested the surface-to-surface short-range Fatah 110 and Zolfaghar missiles, which would be delivered within a maximum of 10 days.
The stakes are high for Iran, which has been negotiating with the West to revive a 2015 deal that would ease sanctions on Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear work.
Negotiations are deadlocked, and any disputes between Tehran and Western powers over arms sales to Russia or Iran’s crackdown on unrest could undercut efforts to reach a deal.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Vedant Patel said on Monday that the United States agreed with Britain and France’s assessment that Iran’s supply of drones to Russia would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution that approved the 2015 deal.
Western officials, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that, like drones, the missile transfer would also violate UN Resolution 2231.
Several senior Iranian officials were outraged by Iran’s plan to impose “unjust” sanctions on Iran’s arms exports to Russia, a second diplomat said.
In September, Tehran rejected President Vladimir Putin’s request from Iran for an advanced Arash 2 long-range attack drone, three Iranian officials told Reuters.
When asked about the reason for the refusal, one of the officials cited several issues, including “some technical issues.”
“The commanders of the (Revolutionary) Guard are also concerned that if Russia uses this Arash 2 drone in Ukraine, the Americans may be exposed to our technology.”
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Written by Michael Georgy, edited by William Maclean
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