Iran agrees to ship missiles, more drones to Russia


Reuters, October 18 - Two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters that Iran has agreed to give Russia surface-to-surface missiles in addition to additional drones, a move that is certain to enrage the United States and other Western nations.

When Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, two prominent Revolutionary Guards generals, and a representative of the Supreme National Security Council traveled to Moscow on October 6 to discuss the delivery of the weapons with Russia, an agreement was reached.

 The Shahed-136, a drone with delta wings used as a "kamikaze" air-to-surface assault aircraft, is one of the drones Iran pledged to provide. It has a tiny warhead that detonates when it hits something.

Iranian short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar can reach targets at ranges between 300 km and 700 km (186 and 435 miles).

The Western diplomats' claims that these transfers violate a 2015 U.N. Security Council resolution were refuted by the Iranian envoy.

"The supplier has no control over how they are being used. Unlike the West, we are neutral in the Ukraine conflict. We intend to use diplomatic channels to resolve the problem "added the envoy.

In recent weeks, Russia has reportedly carried out a number of strikes using drones built in Iran, the Shahed-136. The Kremlin on Tuesday denied Russian forces had utilized Iranian drones to assault Ukraine, while Iran's foreign ministry dismissed unfounded rumors that Russia had purchased drones and other weaponry from Iran for use in Ukraine.

A request for comment from the ministry did not immediately receive a response.

Tensions between Iran and the US and other Western nations would increase if Iranian missiles and drones started to emerge in Moscow's arsenal during the battle with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv was attacked on Monday during rush hour, according to the U.S. State Department's assessment, according to a U.S. official. Speaking on behalf of the White House, Karinne Jean-Pierre charged Tehran with lying when it claimed that Russia was not using Iranian drones in Ukraine.

According to a European official, Russia is resorting to purchases from allies like Iran and North Korea since it is becoming harder for it to develop weapons for itself given the restrictions on its industrial sector.

The European envoy declared that drones and missiles were the natural next step.

A senior U.S. military official responded, "I don't have anything to give at this time on whether or not it is correct at this point," when questioned about Russian purchases of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles.

Iran's leaders are eager to enhance their strategic connections with Russia in order to counter a developing, U.S.-backed Gulf Arab-Israeli coalition that might further tilt the Middle East's power balance against the Islamic Republic, which is chafing under Western economic sanctions.

Some of the "world's big nations," according to Iran's senior Revolutionary Guard commander, Hossein Salami, are eager to buy military and defense equipment from Iran.

Tuesday's state-run media quoted Rahim Safavi, a military advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader, as claiming that 22 nations want to purchase Iranian drones.

Additionally, widespread protests that were sparked by the death in jail of a 22-year-old woman held for "inappropriate dress" are exerting pressure on Iran's leaders.

On Monday, the European Union agreed to a different package of penalties related to Tehran's crackdown on protests, but many member nations also demanded sanctions against Iran for providing drones to Russia.

According to one of the security officials, "They (the Russians) wanted to acquire hundreds of our missiles, even mid-range ones, but we informed them that we can send a few hundred of their desired Zolfaghar and Fateh 110 short-range, surface-to-surface missiles shortly.

"I can't tell you when exactly, but those will be transported in two to three shipments fairly soon," she said.

Although he lacked concrete proof, an Eastern European official keeping tabs on Russia's weapons operations said that they had information that this weaponry sale was taking place. According to the person, the Iranian and Russian presidents decided to move through with the transfer.

Another Iranian ambassador stated that the shipment of the short-range Fateh 110 and Zolfaghar missiles, which Moscow had explicitly requested, will take place in no more than 10 days.

ATTACK DRONES

The stakes are extremely high for Iran, which has been in talks with Western nations to resurrect a 2015 agreement that would reduce sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Tehran's nuclear program.

The negotiations are at a standstill, and any disagreements between Tehran and Western countries over Iran's armament sales to Russia or its response to protests might make it more difficult to reach a deal.

According to U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel, the United States concurs with the views of the United Kingdom and France that Iran providing drones to Russia would be against a U.N. Security Council resolution that supported the 2015 agreement.
Due to the sensitivity of the situation, the Western diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that missile deliveries, like the transfer of drones, would be against U.N. resolution 2231.

According to the second diplomat, some senior Iranian officials are incensed by the "unjust" penalties that are being prepared against Iran because of its weaponry supplies to Russia.

According to three Iranian officials who spoke to Reuters, Tehran turned down President Vladimir Putin's proposal for Iran to deliver its advanced Arash 2 long-range attack drones in September.

One of the authorities gave many reasons for the refusal, including "some technological challenges," when asked.

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