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Exclusive: Iran agrees to send missiles, more drones to Russia in defiance of the West

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  • Iran to sell more drones and missiles to Russia
  • West heavily criticizes Iran over drones
  • Tehran under pressure from mass protests

October 18 (Reuters) – Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles in addition to more drones, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters.

On October 6, an agreement was reached when Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, two senior officials from Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards and an official from the Supreme National Security Council, visited Moscow to discuss the arms delivery with Russia. .

“The Russians wanted more drones and more accurate Iranian ballistic missiles, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar family of missiles,” said one of the Iranian diplomats briefed on the trip.

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A Western official briefed on the matter confirmed this, saying that there is an agreement between Iran and Russia to provide surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles, including the Zolfaghar.

The Iranian diplomat denied claims by Western officials that such transfers violated the 2015 UN Security Council resolution.

The diplomat said, “Where it is used is not the seller’s problem. We do not take sides in the Ukraine crisis like the West. We want the crisis to end through diplomatic means.”

Ukraine has reported a number of Russian attacks in recent weeks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 aircraft. While Iran denied supplying drones to Russia, the Kremlin denied on Tuesday that its forces had used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

Asked whether Russia has used Iranian drones in its operation in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin has no knowledge of their use.

“Russian equipment with Russian terminology is used,” he said. “All other questions should be directed to the Department of Defense.”

The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The emergence of Iranian missiles in addition to drones in Moscow’s arsenal in the war with Ukraine will increase tensions between Iran and the United States and other Western powers.

SHIPMENT ‘COMING SOON, COMING SOON’

A US official said the US State Department was evaluating the use of Iranian drones in the rush hour attack on the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Monday. White House spokeswoman Karinne Jean-Pierre also accused Tehran of lying when it said that Iranian drones were not used by Russia in Ukraine.

A European diplomat said it was his country’s assessment that Russia was finding it harder to manufacture weapons for itself due to sanctions on its industrial sector, and therefore turned to imports from partners such as Iran and North Korea.

“UAVs and missiles are the logical next step,” the European diplomat said.

Asked about the sale of Iran’s surface-to-surface missiles to Russia, a senior US military official said: “I have nothing to say at the moment whether this is true or not.”

Crushed by Western economic sanctions, Iranian rulers are keen to strengthen their strategic ties with Russia against the US-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli bloc that could further alienate the Middle East balance of power from the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s rulers are also under pressure from nationwide demonstrations fueled by the death in custody of a 22-year-old woman detained for “inappropriate dress”.

Some European Union states on Monday called for sanctions on Iran over the supply of drones to Russia, as the bloc agreed on a separate set of sanctions over Tehran’s crackdown on the unrest.

“They wanted to buy hundreds of our missiles, even our medium-range missiles, but we told them we could soon send a few hundred of the Zolfaghar and Fateh 110 short-range, surface-to-surface missiles they requested,” the Russians said. of security officers.

“I can’t give you the exact time, but soon, very soon these will be shipped in 2 to three shipments.”

An Eastern European official who monitors Russia’s arms activities said they understood this arms deal had taken place, although he had no specific evidence to support it. The official said that the Iranian and Russian leaders have decided to continue the transfer.

Another Iranian diplomat said Moscow specifically requested the surface-to-surface short-range Fateh 110 and Zolfaghar missiles and that the shipment would take place within a maximum of 10 days.

ATTACK UAVS

The stakes are high for Iran, which is negotiating with Western states to revive a 2015 deal that would ease sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limiting its nuclear work.

Negotiations have stalled, and any disagreement between Tehran and Western powers over arms sales to Russia or Iran’s crackdown on the unrest could undermine efforts to seal a deal.

US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Monday that the US accepts British and French assessments that Iran’s supply of drones to Russia would violate the UN Security Council resolution ratifying the 2015 agreement.

The Western official, whose identity has not been disclosed due to the sensitive nature of the issue, said that missile transfers, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, would violate UN Resolution 2231.

The second diplomat said several senior Iranian officials were outraged by the “unjustified” planned sanctions against Iran over arms shipments to Russia.

Tehran rejected President Vladimir Putin’s request in September to procure Iran’s advanced Arash 2 long-range attack aircraft, three Iranian officials told Reuters.

When asked about the reason for the refusal, one of the officials cited several issues, including “some technical issues”.

“Furthermore, the commanders of the (Revolutionary) Guards were concerned that the Americans might have access to our technology if Russia used this Arash 2 drone in Ukraine.”

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Written by Michael Georgy, Edited by William Maclean

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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