A satellite image shows possible planned location of UAV manufacturing plant in Russia's Alabuga Special Economic Zone, as evidence of new Russian-Iran cooperation, in this handout acquired June 9, 2023.

Tehran, Moscow Building Drone Manufacturing Plant In Russia

Friday, 06/09/2023

The US has released damning intelligence showing Tehran and Moscow building a drone manufacturing plant in Russia for use in Ukraine.

On Friday, White House National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, said: “This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community. We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities including by sharing this with the public — and we are prepared to do more.”

Providing further proof for the deepening military relationship between Russia and Iran, The White House released satellite imagery of the planned location of the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone, about 600 miles (nearly 1,000 kilometers) east of Moscow. The satellite image of the planned location of the purported drone manufacturing plant was taken on April 3.

“We have information that Russia is receiving materials from Iran needed to build a UAV manufacturing plant inside Russia,” said Kirby, who claims the plant could be fully operational early next year.

The intelligence confirmed data by a Wall Street Journal report in February that the two countries had plans to build such a factory, which could make at least 6,000 drones for the war in Ukraine.

An image shows Iranian drone transfer to Russia, as evidence of new Russian-Iran cooperation, in this handout acquired June 9, 2023.

Another declassified government graphic shows the drones are built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea to Russia — with a port Iran helped develop — and then transferred to two air bases. “The support is flowing both ways: from Iran to Russia, and from Russia to Iran,” Kirby said.

Kirby added that in response, Russia has offered Iran “unprecedented” defense cooperation, including billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment such as Su-35 fighter jets, attack helicopters, radars and Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft.

According to Kirby, Washington will continue to impose sanctions on the entities involved in the transfer of Iranian military equipment. This is in addition to new steps the Biden administration, along with the European Union and the United Kingdom, has already taken to restrict the transfer of electronic components found in Iranian drones to the battlefield in Ukraine.

Already dozens of individuals and entities involved in sending Iranian Shahed kamikaze drones to Russia have been sanctioned by the United States and Europe. Russia has already used hundreds of these drones to attack military and civilian targets in Ukraine, or to try to overwhelm air defenses during its large-scale missile attacks on cities.

He said the US has released the information in order to the public “to expose and disrupt” the countries’ “full-scale defense partnership.”

A senior administration official -- who asked for anonymity -- told Politico that “Actors like Iran want this kind of behavior to be secret. We are shining a light on it publicly to let Iran know we are aware of exactly what they’re doing, and to build pressure on Iran internationally, having alerted other countries to Iran’s actions."

Kirby added that the administration also plans to announce “a new government advisory to help businesses and other governments better understand the risks posed by Iran’s [unmanned aerial vehicle] program and the illicit practices Iran uses to procure components for it.”

“This will help governments and businesses put in place measures to ensure they are not inadvertently contributing to Iran’s UAV program,” he stated.

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