The day after the US announced sanctions on eight Iranian individuals involved in Iran’s drone manufacturing, US media reported that Russia is moving forward with a plan to establish a factory to manufacture some 6,000 Iranian drones every year.
The report was in the Wall Street Journal and came after the US State Department reported the sanctions.
Russia and Iran are seeking to establish a factory in Iran that could make 6,000 of the Iranian drones that Russia has already been using with deadly effects against Ukraine. These are assumed to be the Shahed-style kamikaze drones that Russia has used over the past year.
Iran has angered the West
The use of these drones has angered the West. Drone components have been discovered in Ukraine that can be traced back to the West, showing how Iran’s IRGC and other nefarious Iranian entities acquire Western technology for use in weapons. They acquire this under dual-use trade, where they pretend it is not for weapons, but in fact, it ends up in drones.
Iran’s decision to export drones to Russia has become a major issue in the West. Now Iran appears to play a key role in the war against Ukraine. This has shifted perceptions of Iran from a regional threat in the Middle East, where its drones targeted Israel and Saudi Arabia and other countries, to a an Iran that is actively targeting Europe.
The recent reports are according to the Wall Street Journal and it has cited officials in the West in its reports. The recent report links to warnings in the US that Moscow could move ahead with these plans.
At the same time, the US State Department said it “is designating eight Iranian individuals in leadership roles at Paravar Pars, an Iranian firm that produces unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. Iranian UAVs are being transferred to Russia for use in its brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine."
The report further says that “Russia is using Iran-produced UAVs in attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. The Iranian regime’s military support for Russia helps fuel Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and has also resulted in violations of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which prohibits Iran’s provision of military UAVs to Russia without advance, case-by-case approval of the UN Security Council.”
Iran lost any favor it had
Iran is increasingly under scrutiny for its role in arming Russia. This has been a big game-changer in western perceptions of Iran. Iran is now unable to sell itself as a country that is “moderate” or that can be counted on to do some kind of “deal” with the West. Today, the regime in Iran, having aided Russia in its war in Ukraine, is rapidly losing any friends in the West, or even commentators who might excuse its activity.
In those days, it used to claim that Israel was the problem, and if only the West came to an agreement, then Iran would be a rational normal player in international relations.
These days the Iranian regime, now apparently seeking to work with Russia on a drone manufacturing facility, is quickly losing out on any positive feelings it had in the West, or even any ability to threaten the West, because it is now seen as entirely part of the Russian camp and one of the few countries actively engaging in Russia’s campaign against innocent Ukrainians. For years, Iran used its drones to terrorize the Middle East, launching them against Israel as well as arming Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis in Yemen.
Today its arming of Russia has crossed a red line and Tehran appears to believe it cannot go back. Instead, the reports indicate it is going forward and increasing its work with Moscow. The new US sanctions and the WSJ reports indicate how Iran is moving forward, a year after Moscow began its war against Ukraine.
Whether the Iranian drones will have an impact is unclear. Western countries are increasing their air defense for Ukraine and Iran’s drones are not particularly sophisticated. They are built more to terrorize than to win wars.
It’s unclear if Moscow’s support for Iran or any factories in Russia could increase the range and capabilities of Iran’s drones. If Moscow can increase the range and capabilities, then it's plausible Iran could learn from this experience and use them against countries in the Middle East, a potential blowback from the war against Ukraine.