Iranian weapons were seized by the Royal Navy ship HMS Montrose, according to a statement from the UK Defense Ministry. The statement noted that the weapons had been presented as evidence to the United Nations, “linking an Iranian state organization – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – to the smuggling of weapon systems in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution.”
The report comes days after The Guardian in the UK said, “Iran has used boats and a state-owned airline to smuggle new types of advanced long-range armed drones to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine, sources inside the Middle Eastern country have revealed.”
A third article at The National in the United Arab Emirates notes that “a typo in the word ‘Netherlands’ helped expose illegal Iranian weapons shipments to Yemen, the British government has revealed.” Iran apparently misspelled the country’s name, writing “Nether1ands” on the engine of a missile. It also misspelled the word “version,” and “in another apparent blunder, failed to delete flight logs from a drone on its way to Yemen – showing it had made 22 test flights in grounds belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
These three reports are important for once again showing the lengths to which Iran goes to illegally move weapons around the world. Tehran has been doing this for decades, but it was mostly ignored because it was generally sending weapons to places such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, which were either compromised by being infiltrated by pro-Iranian groups or were not considered important to Western governments and the international community.
Iran felt it had impunity. Tehran’s decision to arm Russia, however, and help it target Ukrainian civilians has significantly heightened the West’s concern over Iranian arms-smuggling.
“On two occasions in early 2022, HMS Montrose seized Iranian weapons from speedboats operated by smugglers in international waters south of Iran,” the UK Defense Ministry said. “The items included surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land-attack cruise missiles, in contravention of UN Security Council Resolutions 2231 and 2140 (2015).”
Several years ago, the US also flagged the Iranian role in Yemen’s war. The US established a display of Iranian materials at Joint Base Anacostia, near Washington. The display included missile and drone parts that had been found and were linked to Iran.
The UN and groups that trace weapons have previously shown how Iran provides materials for the Houthis in Yemen. Iran has also targeted the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and US forces in Iraq and Syria over the last half-decade.
“The UK is committed to upholding international law and will continue to counter Iranian activity that contravenes United Nation Security Council Resolutions and threatens peace across the world.”Ben Wallace
Now the UK is raising the alarm about Iran’s nefarious role.
“The UK is committed to upholding international law and will continue to counter Iranian activity that contravenes United Nations Security Council Resolutions and threatens peace across the world,” said Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. “That is why we have a permanent Royal Navy deployment in the Gulf region, conducting vital maritime security operations and working in support of an enduring peace in Yemen.”
It is worth noting that the head of the United States Naval Forces Central Command, V.-Adm. Brad Cooper, met with his Saudi counterparts over the weekend, and the head of US Central Command, Gen. Michael Kurilla, was in the region last week for a five-day visit. Kurilla visited Bahrain and discussed the important role of Task Force 59, a maritime unit that is important for security in the region.
What do the issues of security in Yemen and the Gulf have to do with Iran’s smuggling to Russia?
It turns out that Iran has delivered at least 18 drones to the Russian Navy, according to The Guardian. Russia has sought to import the Mohajer-6 drone as well as the Shahed 191 and Shahed 129.
“Unlike the better-known Shahed 131 and 136 drones, which have been heavily used by Russia in kamikaze raids against Ukrainian targets, the higher-flying drones are designed to deliver bombs and return to base intact,” the report said. Drones produced in Isfahan were delivered last November.
The Iranian attempt to destabilize Yemen by sending weapons to the Houthis is likely what alerted Moscow to the fact that Tehran might illegally provide weapons for its war in Ukraine. Russia wants to wage the war on the cheap.
The Houthis were able to use Iranian weapons effectively, and they also did it in a relatively cheap fashion. That means Moscow saw how Iran’s drones could destabilize a region and give Russia a lot of “bang for the buck.”
Russia’s goal is to destabilize Ukraine and set it back years through endless war. Russia has recruited mercenaries, prisoners and even poor migrants for its war effort. In essence, Russia is ready to sacrifice large numbers of people who are poor or from the country’s periphery to fight in Ukraine. Iran’s drones are part of that approach.
Recent reports have shown how Iran continues to illegally send weapons that threaten the Middle East and Europe. The reports come as Iran’s president is in China this week, seeking more economic support. That support might increase Iran’s abilities to produce and export more drones and other weapons.