Iran has pledged to send more missiles and drones to Russia during the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Tehran,UPDATED: 19 Oct 2022 11:59 AM IST
A view of drones during a military exercise at an unknown location in Iran. (Photo: Reuters)
By ReutersIran has promised to provide Russia with ground-to-surface missiles, in addition to more drones, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters, a move likely to infuriate the United States and other Western powers.
A deal was struck on October 6 when Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, two senior officials from Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps and an official from the Supreme National Security Council visited Moscow for talks with Russia over the supply of the weapons.
“The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, especially the Fateh and Zolfaghar family of missiles,” said one of the Iranian diplomats, who was briefed about the trip.
A Western official who was informed of this confirmed it, saying that there was an agreement between Iran and Russia to supply short-range ballistic ground missiles, including the Zolfaghar.
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One of the drones Iran has agreed to supply is the Shahed-136, a delta-winged weapon used as a “kamikaze” air-to-surface attack aircraft. It carries a small warhead that explodes on impact.
Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar are Iranian short-range surface-to-ground ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets at ranges between 300 km and 700 km (186 and 435 miles).
The Iranian diplomat rejected claims by Western officials that such transfers violate a 2015 UN Security Council resolution.
“Where they are used is not the seller’s question. We are not taking sides in the Ukraine crisis like the West. We want an end to the crisis through diplomatic means,” the diplomat said.
Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks in recent weeks using Iranian Shahed-136 drones. Iran’s foreign ministry on Tuesday dismissed as baseless reports that Iran supplied drones and other weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, while the Kremlin denied Tuesday that its forces had used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.
When asked whether Russia had used Iranian drones in its campaign in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin had no information about their use.
“Russian equipment with Russian nomenclature is used,” he said. “All further questions should be directed to the Ministry of Defense.”
The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The appearance of Iranian missiles alongside drones in Moscow’s arsenal in the war with Ukraine is said to increase tensions between Iran and the United States and other Western powers.
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The US State Department has determined that Iranian drones were used in a morning rush attack on the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Monday, a US official said. White House spokesman Karinne Jean-Pierre also accused Tehran of lying when it said Iranian drones are not used by Russia in Ukraine.
A European diplomat said his country’s assessment was that Russia found it more difficult to produce weapons for itself given sanctions against its industrial sector and so turned to imports from partners such as Iran and North Korea.
Drones and missiles are a logical next step, said the European diplomat.
Asked about Iran’s sale of surface-to-surface missiles to Russia, a senior US military official said, “I have nothing to offer at this point in terms of whether that’s right or not at this point.”