France said Thursday that supply of Iranian armed drones to Russia would breach UN Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 2231 endorsing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre made the claim in an online briefing, saying Paris had noted “a great deal of information that reports the use of Iranian drones by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, in bombardments that were aimed at civilian targets…”
With European Union foreign ministers due to consider Monday plans for sanctions on Iran over treatment of domestic protests, Legendre said Paris was also coordinating with “European partners” on how to respond to the “potential transfer” of Iranian drones to Russia.
Iran has denied supplying drones to Russia, and there was no immediate explanation of the French claim. Following the terms of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231 and the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), a UN arms embargo on Iran expired in 2020 with a remaining ban on “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons” in place until October 2023.
Reuters news agency cited “a diplomatic source” explaining Legendre’s claim in terms of drones violating UNSC Resolution 2231 because they came under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which is a non-binding political understanding among states, including Russia and the United States, limiting proliferation of missiles and missile technology. Reuters did not explain the relevance of the MTCR nor whether it would similarly cover the current supply of drones to Ukraine from Turkey.
NATO counties seem to be taking seriously reports that Russia is using Iranian-made Shahed 136 delta-wing ‘kamikaze’ drones, which are a cheap alternative to missiles. Ukrainian officials claimed Thursday Iranian drones were responsible for explosions near the capital Kyiv early that day, with Russian strikes across the country killing 13 people in attacks on “critical infrastructure.” Associated Press reported from Kyiv that it was not clear if any of these casualties were due to drones.
Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv military administration, said last week that explosions at a military base 75km south of the city wounding one, had been carried out by Shahed-136 drones.
Military supplies, escalation
The reported use of Iranian drones comes as Ukraine lobbies Washington for advanced weapons, including F-16 jets and long-range drones. Ukraine is meeting opposition from senior US officials concerned that striking targets well inside Russia would escalate the current conflict. There are also other reasons why sending more advanced weapons would not be easy. US officials recently told the New York Times that Ukraine, despite denials, was responsible for the August 20 bomb killing Darya Dugin, 29-year-old daughter of the Russia conservative commentator Aleksandr Dugin.
The US has so far sent $16.8 billion in military supplies to Ukraine, and the European Union $2.5 billion. Ankara has supplied Ukraine since 2019 with advanced Bayraktar TB-2 drones, while also acting in the current conflict as a mediator between Moscow and Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Republican and some Democrat critics of the JCPOA argue that protests in Iran require tougher US sanctions. Pressed by journalists Wednesday, Ned Price, the State Department spokesman said efforts to renew the JCPOA were “not our focus right now.” The US, like the three Western European JCPOA signatories – France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – say they want the JCPOA restored but that Tehran has thwarted talks by making demands beyond the 2015 agreement, which the US left in 2018 imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions.