Moscow Inks Deal With Tehran to Produce Iranian-designed Drones in Russia, Report Says

According to the Washington Post, Russia would be able to begin production within months on Iranian-designed drones, replenishing its faltering stockpile as the war in Ukraine wears on

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A drone is launched from a warship in a military drone drill in Iran.
A drone is launched from a warship in a military drone drill in Iran.Credit: /AP

Moscow and Tehran have struck a deal to build hundreds of attack drones in Russia, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

Citing intelligence seen by the United States and other Western security agencies, the report said that the deal's details were finalized in recent weeks. In a matter of months, it said, production may begin, which would significantly boost Moscow's stockpile of attack drones – a vital component in its bombardment of Ukraine.

The report quoted one official familiar with the agreement as saying that the effort to produce these drones in Russia "is moving fast and it has lot of steam.” Since August, over 400 such Iranian-produced drones have been used by Moscow in attacks on Ukraine, including on vital civilian infrastructure.

The deal to locally produce Iranian-designed drones would be a boon to both countries; Moscow is low on munitions as the war stretches on, and Iran would reap the economic and political benefits. The sources added that, aside from the clear monetary benefits and ties to a world power, it is unknown exactly what Iran is seeking in exchange. Possibilities include assistance with the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

CNN reported earlier this month that Iran requested help from Russia in obtaining additional nuclear materials and with nuclear fuel fabrication. The fuel may be intended to help Iran power its nuclear reactors and could potentially cut down on the time it takes Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon.

After having long denied supplying the weapons to Russia, Iran's foreign minister acknowledged that the country is arming Moscow with weaponized drones earlier this month.

Although Hossein Amirabdollahian stated that Iran transferred "a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war," the Washington Post report noted that Iranian parts marked with a manufacturing date around the time of the invasion cast doubt on this. Previously – even days before the admission – Iranian officials had denied arming Russia in its war on Ukraine.

According to an October New York Times report, Israel is providing Ukraine with intelligence on the Iranian-made drones as Kyiv seeks to buy Israeli aerial defense systems from Israel.

Although Jerusalem has continuously denied that request, fearing that doing so will cause Russia to curb Israel's airstrikes in Syria, an anonymous Ukrainian security official told the Times that in addition to the intelligence on drones, a private Israeli firm was "providing Ukraine with satellite imagery of Russian troop positions."

That month, an airstrike attributed to Israel struck an Iranian-backed drone manufacturing and weapons storage site in Damascus, a human rights watchdog said, targeting equipment used to assemble Iranian drones at Dimas military airport near the Lebanese border.

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