Iranian ballistic missiles are displayed during the ceremony of joining the Armed Forces, in Tehran, Iran, August 22, 2023.

US Warns Iran Over Missiles To Russia

Friday, 02/23/2024

Iran will face a “swift and severe” response if it sells ballistic missiles to Russia, the United States warned on Thursday, reacting to reports earlier that Tehran may have done so.

Reuters reported Wednesday that Iran has provided Russia with hundreds of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, adding to the large number of Iran-made drones and guided bombs and artillery ammunition –all of which has been used against Ukraine. 

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the Biden administration will impose more sanctions on Iran for supplying drones to Russia, and it would go even “further” if it’s established that Iran has given Russia ballistic missiles, implying that the US government is yet to see clear evidence of that.

“We will implement additional sanctions against Iran and we will coordinate further response options with our allies and partners in Europe and elsewhere,” Kirby said. “I can assure you that the response from the international community will be swift and it will be severe.”

Iran and Russia are the two countries with the greatest number of US sanctions against them. And it’s expected that both countries will be at the receiving end of even more in the near future. The Biden administration is expected to announce its new set of Russia sanctions Friday, coinciding with the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine and the death of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s best-known opposition figure.

“We have demonstrated our ability to take action in response to the military partnership between Russia and Iran in the past,” Kirby said. “We will do so in the future. In response to Iran’s ongoing support for Russia’s brutal war.”

Iran has repeatedly denied that it provided Russia with weapons. Foreign Minister Amir-abdollahian showed sign of frustration Thursday when asked about the Reuters report.

“I strongly condemn the baseless accusations against Iran,” he said, “repeating unsubstantiated assertions on this issue has reached a boring state.”

Based on the Reuter’s report, citing several sources inside Iran, around 400 Iranian missiles have been sent to Russia, including Zolfaghat, which is said to have a maximum range of 700 km.

“During the Trump administration, Iran had barely any cash. Now it can afford to manufacture enough missiles to send 400 to Russia,” Senator Tom Cotton said Thursday in an interview with Fox News. “Joe Biden allowed this to happen through his appeasing and relaxing sanctions on the ayatollahs.”

Many in Washington blame President Biden for what they see as a clear ascendency of “the enemies of the United States,” namely, Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

“Reports that Iran is now supplying hundreds of missiles to Russia is another sign of deepening military cooperation between them,’ Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch posted on his account on X. “Putin's ability to acquire missiles from Iran and the DPRK (North Korea) stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration's dithering on providing Ukraine Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).”

Ukraine has for many months been a contentious issue in Washington. A group of Republicans have blocked the aid package that would boost Ukraine’s war efforts to the tune of $70 billion.

That’s in stark contrast to the missile deal between Iran and Russia, which according to an Iranian source cited by Reuters, was finalized in late 2023, allowing for shipments to begin in early January 2024.

The UN Security Council sanctions on Iran's export of drones and some missiles expired in October 2023. The US and EU sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program are still in place, however, mainly due to concerns that the regime would give these weapons to Russia –and its regional proxies, of course.

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