The United States will crack down on Iranian drone transfers to Russia and third parties helping Iran in UAVs and missiles, the State Department said Monday.
The US also agrees with British and French assessments that Iran supplying drones to Russia would violate a UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said.
"Earlier today our French and British allies publicly offered the assessment that Iran’s supply of these UAVs (for) Russia is a violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231," Patel told reporters, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. "This is something that we agree with."
Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.
The State Department assessed that Iranian drones were used on Monday in a morning rush hour attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, an official said. White House spokesperson Karinne Jean-Pierre also accused Tehran of lying when it says Iranian drones are not being used by Russia in Ukraine.
Resolution 2231 endorsed the deal between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States that limited Tehran's uranium enrichment activity, making it harder for Iran to develop nuclear arms while lifting international sanctions.
Under the resolution, a conventional arms embargo on Iran was in place until October 2020. Despite US efforts under former president Donald Trump, who took the United States out of the deal in 2018, to extend the arms embargo, the Security Council rejected this, paving the way for Iran to resume arms exports.
However, Western diplomats said the resolution still includes restrictions on missiles and related technologies that last until October 2023 and that encompass the export and purchase of advanced military systems such as drones.
European are still not sure if they would impose sanctions on Iran for the drone transfers. Arriving in Luxemburg Monday for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, said Europe would look for “concrete evidence” over reports that Russia had used Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks.
But the United States is certain Russia is using Iranian drones. "It is our belief that these UAVs that are transferred from Iran to Russia and used by Russia in Ukraine are among the weapons that would remain embargoed under 2231," Patel said.
The Washington Post Sunday also cited “an intelligence assessment shared in recent days with Ukrainian and US officials [that] contends Iran’s armaments industry is preparing a first shipment of [surface-to-surface] Fateh-110 and Zolfagher missiles…”
The Biden Administration and its European allies, France, Germany and the United Kingdom that unsuccessfully negotiated for nearly 18 months with Iran to revive an Obama-era nuclear deal, the JCPOA, seem to realize that ignoring Tehran’s actions will not help soften its stance in reaching a deal.
Recent popular protests have also cast a further shadow on the attitude of Western countries toward the clerical regime in Iran. Government security forces have killed nearly 250 people including many children since mid-September after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman, at the hands of the ‘hijab police’.