Iran, Russia expanding their ‘unprecedented’ defense partnership: White House

A White House official said Monday that Iran and Russia are expanding their “unprecedented” defense partnership, with Tehran providing the Kremlin at least 400 drones since August.

But support is flowing both ways, National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told reporters in a phone call. He said Iran is now seeking “billions of dollars” worth of military equipment from Russia.

“The partnership between Russia and Iran is directly enabling Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East, posing a threat not just to Ukraine, of course, but also to Iran’s neighbors,” Kirby added.

“Since August, Iran has provided Russia with more than 400 UAVs, primarily of the Shahed variety,” he said. Russia has then taken these Iranian drones and used them to target Ukrainian critical infrastructure inside Ukraine, according to the White House.

“By providing Russia with these UAVs, Iran has been directly enabling Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” Kirby said in the latest move by the Biden administration to declassify some intelligence as has been the case since the start of the Russian war on Ukraine.

In response, Kirby said the US would announce more sanctions against those involved in the increased military trade between the two countries in the coming days.

Asked about the many sanctions already placed on Iran, Kirby was asked if they worked. “That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room and still opportunity to impose new restrictions,” he said. On whether sanctions are effective, Kirby said sanctions were a long-term tool. “But over time, that effect can build,” he said, pointing to export controls on Moscow, which have hampered Vladimir Putin’s ability to build precision-guided munitions.

The NSC official said the “full-scale” Iran-Russia defense partnership was harmful to Ukraine, to the Middle East and to the international community. “We are using the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities and we are prepared to do more,” he said.

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