Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns

CIA Warns Of Growing Iranian-Russian Defense Partnership

Saturday, 07/22/2023

In a stark warning at the Aspen Security Forum, CIA Director William Burns expressed concern over the burgeoning defense partnership between Iran and Russia.

Burns also touched upon the partnership’s potential ramifications for US allies in the Middle East, specifically Iran's supply of weaponized drones to Russia, which have been used in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

“The Defense partnership between Russia and Iran right now is a useful two-way street…Russian technicians working on the space launch vehicle program in Iran and other aspects of their missile programs. We've seen discussion at least of the possibility of the Russians providing advanced combat aircraft to Iran which you know expands the threat from the innocent Ukrainian civilians,” added Burns, who cited the threats that poses across the Middle East, specifically referring to Iran receiving advanced combat aircraft from Russia.

However, Burns also revealed that the Iranian-Russian partnership has encountered obstacles within Tehran itself. "We have... seen signs where the Iranian leadership has hesitated about supplying ballistic missiles to the Russians, which was also on their wish list as well," Burns disclosed. He attributed Tehran's reluctance partly to apprehensions about not only the US response but also that of European nations.

Earlier this week, MI6 Chief Richard Moore corroborated the impact of the drone sales on Iran's internal dynamics, stating that the dealings had sparked "internal quarrels at the highest level of the regime in Tehran." While Burns acknowledged the report, he refrained from commenting further on the matter.

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