Two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats said on Wednesday that Iran had agreed to supply surface-to-surface missiles and more drones to Russia, a move that will enrage the United States and other Western nations amid the Ukraine conflict, Reuters reported.
The agreement for supply of more arms was made when Iran’s first Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, two prominent Revolutionary Guards of Iran, and a representative of the Supreme National Security Council travelled to Moscow on October 6.
An Iranian diplomat who was briefed on the visit told Reuters, “The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles family.”
According to a Western diplomat who was informed on the situation, Iran has secured a deal with Russia to supply surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles like the Zolfaghar.
The Shahed-136, a drone with delta wings used as a “kamikaze” air-to-surface assault aircraft, is one of the drones Iran has pledged to provide to Russia. It carries a small warhead that explodes on impact.
Iranian short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar can hit targets at distances of between 300 km and 700 km (186 and 435 miles).
Western officials have claimed that such weapon transfers violate a 2015 UN Security Council resolution. However, Iran has refuted the claims. “Where they are being used is not the seller’s issue. We do not take sides in the Ukraine crisis like the West. We want an end to the crisis through diplomatic means,” Reuters quoted the Iranian diplomat as saying.
In recent weeks, Russia has reportedly carried out a number of strikes in Ukraine using drones built in Iran. The Kremlin on Tuesday denied Russian forces had utilised Iranian drones to attack Ukraine. Iran’s foreign ministry has dismissed as unfounded rumours that Russia had purchased drones and other weaponry from Iran for use in Ukraine.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said Russia was unaware of any deployment of Iranian drones in Ukraine.
“Russian equipment with Russian nomenclature is used. All further questions should be directed to the Defence Ministry,” he said.