Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called Wednesday for Ukraine to present any evidence that Russia had used Iranian-made drones in the conflict.
Two days after saying Iran would “not remain indifferent” to such use, Amir-Abdollahian rejected “the baseless claims of some countries.” Addressing a press conference with visiting Belorussian Foreign Minister Vladimir Maki, Amir-Abdollahian said Ukrainian authorities should “present any evidence…in a bilateral meeting with the attendance of experts.”
Visiting Washington, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Tuesday he would give the United States officials photographic proof of Russia using Iranian drones in Ukraine. Herzog’s office said this would involve visual evidence that fragments of drones were identical to those developed in Iran.
The US has already said it has evidence of Russia’s use of Iranian drones, sanctioning several Iranian companies in September. CNN October 18 displayed a drone, apparently intact, which it claimed Ukrainian forces had shot down and was a Mohajer-6 drone with the marking ER-860. The European Union and the United Kingdom last week sanctioned three Iranian commanders and a defense company.
‘Extreme and hasty views’
Amir-Abdollahian told Wednesday’s press conference the leaders “of a few countries in the EU” had “extreme and hasty views on regional and international developments.”
Damage in Kyiv from what Ukraine said was an Iranian drone, on Oct. 17, 2022
France and the United Kingdom last week joined the US in presenting a letter to the United Nations Secretariat arguing that Iran’s alleged supply of drones to Russia contravened UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPAO (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Talks to revive the JCPOA, which the US left in 2018, are currently in abeyance.
Amir-Abdollahian said Iran had received a letter from the US over JCPOA restoration and that diplomacy was “going well.” Nonetheless, “some American officials” had made “hypocritical statement in the media in a way that contradicts their diplomatic messages.” The foreign minister called US sanctions – which Tehran is seeking removed as a quid pro quo for restoring JCPOA limits on its nuclear program – “economic terrorism.”
US officials, most recently Iran envoy Rob Malley, have been saying since early October that JCPOA revival was not their focus, and no messages were sent to Tehran. Some, including Russia’s ambassador to UN bodies in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov, have suggested any progress in talks would come after US Congressional election November 8.
‘Various malign actors’
Ned Price, the US State Department Spokesman, said Tuesday that material presented at the UN Security Council by a UN expert over the alleged Russian use of Iranian drones “primarily was not US information,” and that the UN had obtained the information on its own. Price said there was “clear, unmistakable evidence of Iran’s support to various malign actors, from the Houthis [Ansar Allah in Yemen] to Russia to others in conflict zones around the world, of UAV [drone, unmanned aerial vehicle] technology.” The spokesman said Washington was “looking at what more we can do using our own authorities and what more collectively we can do with partners and allies around the world to hold Iran accountable…”
Iran’s drone program developed due partly to a lack of an effective air-force given international sanctions. The Shahed-129 may have been a copy of the Hermes 450, a drone made by Israel, which along with Turkey leads Middle East UAV production. Both the US and Turkey have supplied drones to Ukraine.