Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday Canada would investigate how parts from an Ottawa-based company were reportedly found in an Iranian military drone.
Trudeau said he did not want Canada’s “extraordinary technological innovations” used in “Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, or Iran’s contributions to that.” He argued that Ottawa had “strict export permits in place for sensitive technology” and would work with Tallyman Wireless to “figure out exactly how items that we’re not supposed to get into the hands of anyone like the Iranian government actually ended up there.”
Canada’s arms exports – which before Moscow’s 2014 Crimea annexation included Russia – are regulated by the Export and Import Permits Act, under which there is a list of ‘approved buyers’. In 2021, 66 percent of Canada’s military sales went to the Middle East, with the lion’s share of $1.75 billion bought by Saudi Arabia.
Many parts used in military drones, however, are readily available and often bought online. The presence of Canadian-made antennae in the Shahed-136 drone was asserted last month in an investigation by Statewatch, a group committed to transparency in government.
Trudeau raised the issue with reporters Monday after a report in the Globe and Mail. Statewatch had cited Ukrainian intelligence claiming the Shahed-136 had parts from over 30 European and American companies, mainly from the United States. Ukraine’s attack Monday on two military bases deep inside Russia used Soviet-era drones, the Kremlin said.
Military drones have been deployed by both sides in the Ukraine war, with Ukrainian forces using mainly US and Turkish drones, or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). The increasingly use of drones in conflicts across the world reflects their low cost compared to missiles or jet-planes.
Police officers shoot at a drone during a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine October 17, 2022.
Canada on December 2 sanctioned Baharestan Kish, an Iranian research company, over alleged involvement in supplying drones to Russia. Ottawa had in November sanctioned two Iranian companies on the same grounds, while the US and European Union listed Iranian entities in October.
With temperatures in Kyiv currently minus 5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) and snow looming, there are stories of the infamous Russian winter playing havoc with sophisticated weapons. The Ukrainian military has reported that Moscow has not deployed Shaheed drones since November 17 as they cannot function in freezing temperatures.
Other Ukrainian officials have, however suggested Moscow has simply run out of stocks. Iran in early November acknowledged it had supplied “a small number” of military drones to Russia before the current phase of conflict broke out with Moscow’s ‘special military operation’ in February. There have been mixed signals in recent days over prospects for peace talks between Russia and the US to end the war.