The US will continue to expose Iran’s actions in the Russia-Ukraine war, the US Special Envoy for Iran said in an interview with Al Arabiya, after reports of Iran sending drones and missiles to Russia recently emerged.
“I think it’s clear that Iran has moved closer to Russia. We think it’s a very bad bed that Iran has made, but it’s clear to the world today that Iran has sided with Russia and its war of aggression against Ukraine,” the top US diplomat for Iran Rob Malley said.
“It’s something that we have exposed, that others have exposed, and I think … the first step to take is to make sure the world knows to run, and people know what their government is doing. And it’s clear as well that the Iranian government is embarrassed by that because they keep denying that they’ve transferred these drones to Russia in the face of mounting and incontrovertible evidence,” he added.
Ukraine and its Western allies have repeatedly accused Moscow of using Iranian-made drones in attacks on Ukraine in recent weeks.
In September, Ukraine decided to significantly reduce its diplomatic relations with Tehran over alleged arms deliveries to Moscow.
The Ukrainian National Resistance Center reported in October that Russian forces took Iranian instructors to the occupied Kherson and Crimea regions to launch Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze drones.
“We will continue to expose [Iran’s actions], will continue to expose the transfer of drones, or of any other weapons, and as you know, the reports of Iran potentially transferring missiles to Russia,” Malley said, adding that the US will “continue to sanction anyone who is related even tangentially to those transfers.”
“Any economic operator in the region, or elsewhere, should be very careful about involving themselves in such transfers because we will sanction them,” he warned.
“We will take other steps necessary that we deem appropriate to try to stop those transfers. But again, it is a step that Iran has taken. We know that they have transferred those drones.”
“We know that they’ve also trained Russian operators in using those drones and we know that those drones have been used to target civilians and civilian infrastructure. That’s not something I think that the Iranian regime wanted the world to know. The world now knows it.”
Iran is allegedly preparing to deliver more weapons to Russia to be used in its war against Ukraine, CNN reported on Tuesday citing officials from a western country which closely monitors Tehran’s weapons.
It has been estimated that Iran will send around 1,000 weapons to Moscow, some of which include surface-to-surface short range ballistic missiles and attack drones.
According to the officials cited in the CNN report, Iran’s last shipment of arms to Russia included 450 drones that Moscow used in Ukraine. Although it is not yet clear when the weapons in question will be sent to Russia, officials said they expected the transaction to occur before the end of this year.
“There’s no doubt that sanctions are not the perfect solution… But we will continue to sanction because we do think there’s a naming and shaming component that’s important. But there’s also a deterrent aspect,” Malley explained.
He continued: “Some of these mid-level officials in Iran may not want to know or may not want to be on our sanctions list. And other countries that are caught in our secondary sanctions will know that they shouldn’t be dealing with either [of] these officials or these entities that we have sanctioned. But of course, we will not claim that sanctions are the answer to all these problems.”
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