As US officials briefed the flagship New York Times on efforts to stop Iran sending drones to Russia, the Jerusalem Post played down “a new era of drone wars.”

A 2,000-word New York Times story published December 28 was based on un-named United States officials proclaiming Iran and Russia to be “building a new alliance of convenience.” This had prompted an “expanding US program…to choke off Iran’s ability to manufacture the drones” as US forces help “Ukraine’s military to target the sites where the drones are being prepared for launch…”

But the day before the Times outlined the “breath of the [US] effort,” the Jerusalem Post was more sanguine. “No matter how many Iranian drones Russia has access to, it can’t defeat Ukraine,” it noted. With the vast majority of the drones used by Russia easily shot down, “big army formations like tanks, infantry and artillery, still decide wars,” the Post observed.

The newspaper also conceded that while Iran had developed drones due to its lack of an effective air-force in the face of international sanction, Israel, whose advanced US-supplied aircraft include F35s, was “one of the world’s leaders in drone technology.”

‘An important tool’

Both the Ukraine war and a trumpeted ‘Iranian threat’ are boosting Israel’s weapons sales, including to disillusioned customers of Russia, as its arms exports reached a record $11.3 billion in 2022. “Iran…is suddenly sending drones to Russia, and is forming a military and security alliance with Russia…the war is helping Israel in that sense…as a by-product Israel is increasing its share of the arms market,” Yossi Melman, Haaretz Intelligence correspondence, told Voice of America December 22.

“Iranian military technology is seen as an important tool against the growing threat of Iranian military power – ­­the concern about Iran is shared by both European and Middle Eastern countries,” VOA said.

But while Iran’s supply of drones to Russia – and Tehran claims these were sent before the current phase of conflict began February – has helped Israel’s arms sales, the US has been less successful, the New York Times reported, in hampering Iran’s drone industry given the expertise developed by Iran over many years evading American sanctions and surveillance. This was, the Times said, “proving as difficult as the decades-old drive to deprive Iran of the components needed to build the delicate centrifuges it uses to enrich near-bomb-grade uranium.”

Israeli expertise in “undermining Iran’s nuclear program” could help over Iran’s drone exports, the paper suggested: “In the effort to stop the drone attacks,” the Times said, “Mr Biden’s [President Joe Biden] aides are also engaging an ally with a long history of undermining Iran’s nuclear program: Israel.”

The Times referred to a recent video meeting between Jake Sullivan with Israel’s top national security, military and intelligence officials – which came as talk increases in Israel of a military attack on Iran and as Benjamin Netanyahu returns to power with the support of ultra-Zionists. “The fact that the administration chose to highlight the discussion…was notable,” the Times observed.

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