Intelligence Shows Iran Is Helping Russia Build Drones

Deal will help increase weapons stockpile for use against Ukraine
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2022 2:15 PM CST
Iran to Help Russia Build Drones: Intelligence
Firefighters work after a drone attack on buildings in Kyiv on Oct. 17.   (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna, File)

Iran has agreed to help Russia build hundreds of weaponized drones for use against Ukraine, new intelligence shows. Production in Russia could begin in months, officials told the Washington Post. Iran contends it's officially neutral in the Russia-Ukraine fight, though drones it made have attacked Ukrainian military and civilian targets, including Kyiv. Intelligence officials said Russia has sent more than 400 attack drones made in Iran into Ukraine since August. Russia would be able to rapidly increase its shrinking supply of precision-guided weapons if it operated its own assembly line, the officials said.

Western nations threatened to impose new sanctions on Iran after its drones were first used against Ukrainian cities; having the drones assembled in Russia might be a way for Iran to try to avoid the penalties. Iran first denied supplying drones to Russia, per the Hill, then conceded it had delivered a "limited number" before Russia's invasion began. The deal would strengthen ties between the two nations, which have already benefited the struggling invasion. The deal was made final early this month, according to the intelligence, which officials said several NATO nations have reviewed.

"It is proceeding quickly from decision-making to implementation," the official said, adding, "it has lot of steam." An analyst said both nations will profit. "Iran is acting as a design bureau for a great power," said Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Iran's economical design and half-century of covert procurement of Western technology is being married to the industrial scale of a great power—Russia. That will have benefits for both Russia and Iran." (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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