Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian attends a news conference at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon April 28, 2023.

Cornered Over Drones For Russia, Iran Says Holding Talks With Europe

Friday, 07/07/2023

As Europe says it will retain sanctions on Iran over its missile programs, the regime’s foreign minister says talks have begun with three European powers. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abollahian made the claim in an interview with Chinese TV channel Phoenix following Thursday's UN Security council’s session to discuss Iran’s nuclear advancements and its arms supply to Russia as well as Tehran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). 

“In the past several weeks, Iran has started talks with three countries of Germany, France and England,” he said, noting that “talks started in Norway and recently continued in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.” 

Amir-Abollahian expressed hope that these talks are aimed at overcoming “misunderstandings,” paving the ground for the Islamic Republic and the E3 countries (France, UK and Germany) for “better interaction and cooperation.”

What the top Iranian diplomat described as “misunderstandings” are the implementation of the UN resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal. As part of the defunct agreement, UN sanctions imposed on the regime over its ballistic missile program are set expire in October, but the three European parties of the accord argue that Iran has violated the pact, therefore the sanctions should remain in place. 

Rescuers and police officers examine parts of the drone at the site of a building destroyed by a Russian drone attack, as their attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, December 14, 2022

They base their argument on evidence that proves Iran is supplying weapons for the Russian invasion of Ukraine – on which Iran should have coordinated with the UN Security Council – and on IAEA reports that prove Iran is stockpiling highly-enriched uranium beyond the levels allowed in resolution 2231. 

Amir-Abdollahian did not mention the drone supplies to Russia but Iran has maintained an ambivalent approach about its military dealings with Moscow. While it keeps repeating claims that Iran supports peace in Ukraine, it argues that the drones were sold to Russia before the invasion began, despite colossal amounts of evidence, including multiple Iranian Shahed drones shot down over Ukraine. In the latest development, satellite imagery indicates that the regime has also set up a drone manufacturing line in Tatarstan Republic to jointly produce the drones with Russia.

Western navies have also seized multiple shipments of Iranian arms in the Persian Gulf waters apparently destined for Houthis in Yemen, including in one instance missile and drone parts, in violation of existing UN sanctions.

At the same time, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that during the Security Council’s session on Thursday, Iran and the Russian Federation claim there was no evidence linking the intercepted vessel and its cargo to Iran, and no clear indication that the seized components were of Iranian origin. 

Amir-Abollahian's remarks also followed a phone call with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who warned the Iranian foreign minister against arms supplies to Russia. The European Union, multiple European countries and the United States have been warning Iran against supplying weapons to Russia since its Shahed Kamikaze drones were deployed by Moscow last year against civilian and military targets in Ukraine. So far, Russia has launched hundreds of these loitering munitions, mostly against infrastructure and centers of population.

Iran's FM also said in the interview that the Ebrahim Raisi administration is following two courses of action simultaneously to deal with the sanctions. “The first path is to try to neutralize the sanctions and the other path is to try to cancel the sanctions using the tools of diplomacy and negotiation. We move in both directions,” he said.

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