Iran commenting on possible delivery of military drones to Russia said Wednesday that Tehran’s “technical cooperation” with Moscow predates the Ukraine war, .
In his weekly press conference, foreign ministry spokesman Naser Kanaani was asked about reports that Iran might sell military drones to Russia for its war effort in Ukraine, which he did not deny. Instead, he said, “Iranian and Russian technological cooperation predates developments in Ukraine. Any linkage between our cooperation with Russia with developments in Ukraine is intentionally biased.”
He went on to reiterate that Iran pursues “political solutions for this crisis.”
The US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan recently said that Russian officers visited Iran in June and July to review possible drone purchases.
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told CNN on Tuesday that any drone shipment from Iran was “of course of concern” and would “bolster Russia’s ability to wreak havoc.” He said it “speaks volumes” that Iran would be in a position where it sold drones to Russia “against its professed position of neutrality in the conflict.” Without giving details, Malley said the US would “use the tools at our disposal” to sanction any supply of weapons to Russia.
Kanaani in his briefing said, however, “Russian and Iranian ties are bilateral, based on the interests of the two countries and do not concern the American government, which cannot comment about the relationship.”
Kanaani also said that he cannot confirm if Ukraine was discussed between presidents Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran Ebrahim Raisi when they met in Tehran on Tuesday, although “naturally international issues are discussed in multilateral meetings,” he added.
However, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in his meeting with Putin clearly backed Russia’s “initiative” in attacking Ukraine, saying that if Moscow had not taken that step, NATO would have started a war anyway.
“Nato is a dangerous creature,” Khamenei said, “[that] didn’t recognize any limits or borders. If you cannot stand up to them in Ukraine, then a little while later, with the excuse of Crimea, they would have started this war anyway,” Khamenei told Putin.
Speaking about Iran’s talks with the United States to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA, Kanaani rejected US statements that the latest meeting in Doha in June failed. “As a matter of fact, these were good talks,” he insisted.
He went on to speak with optimism that the diplomatic process is well and alive and the European Union is pursuing discussions with the two sides.
Kanaani reiterated Iran’s position that it needs “serious guarantees” about the US commitment to a new agreement and “verification” that Washington carries out its obligations.
Eleven months of talks in Vienna to revive the JCPOA came to a stop in March as Iran demanded the lifting of all sanctions introduced by the US after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.
Kanaani also repeated remarks by Khamenei and Raisi on Tuesday that the United States should withdraw its troops from Syria.