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US Says Iran May Provide Ballistic Missiles to Russia

November 22, 2023
2 min read
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby expressed concern that “Iran is considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles now for use in Ukraine” (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby expressed concern that “Iran is considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles now for use in Ukraine” (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

The White House has voiced concern that the Islamic Republic of Iran may provide Russia with ballistic missiles for use in its war in Ukraine, amid a burgeoning military partnership between Moscow and Tehran.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on November 21 that Tehran may be preparing “to go a step further in its support for Russia” after having provided Moscow with drones, guided aerial bombs and artillery ammunition.

In June, the United States said it had information that, in addition to supplying drones, Tehran was working with Moscow to produce Iranian drones in a factory east of Moscow that could be fully operational early next year.

Kirby mentioned Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Tehran in September during which he was shown a range of ballistic missile systems, sparking US concern.

“We are therefore concerned that Iran is considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles now for use in Ukraine,” Kirby said. “In return for that support, Russia has been offering Tehran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics and air defense.”

On November 22, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Kirby’s assertions, telling reporters: "We are developing relations with Iran, including in the field of military-technical cooperation, but we do not comment on this information.”

Kirby also noted Iran’s announcement earlier this year that it had finalized a deal to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, and said that Iran is looking to buy Russian attack helicopters, radars and combat-trainer aircraft.

“In total, Iran is seeking billions of dollars worth of military equipment from Russia to strengthen its military capabilities,” he said. “Russia has also been helping Iran develop and maintain its satellite collection capabilities and other space-based programs.”

The National Security Council spokesperson said the military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran is harmful to Ukraine, Iran’s neighbors in the Middle East and “quite frankly to the international community.”

Kirby also said that the Russian mercenary group Wagner is preparing to provide an air-defense capability to either Lebanon’s Hezbollah group or its backer Iran, adding that the United States is prepared to use “counterterrorism sanctions authority against Russian individuals or entities that might make these destabilizing transfers.” 

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