Friday, March 1, 2024

CNN: Russians visited Iran’s airfield in June to examine drones

A Russian delegation has visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice in the last month to examine weapons-capable drones, according to US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and satellite imagery obtained exclusively by CNN. Iran has earlier rejected Sullivan’s claim that Tehran is sending drones to Russia for use in the Ukraine war.

Iran began showcasing the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, also known as UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, to Russia at Kashan Airfield south of Tehran in June, US officials told CNN.

Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles.

“We have information that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs,” Sullivan told CNN in a statement.

“We assess an official Russian delegation recently received a showcase of Iranian attack-capable UAVs,” the official added.

“We are releasing these images captured in June showing Iranian UAVs that the Russian government delegation saw that day. This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs,” he continued.

Sullivan stated that to the US’ knowledge, the June visit “was the first time a Russian delegation has visited this airfield for such a showcase.”

A Russian delegation visited the airfield for a similar showcase again on July 5, the officials noted.

On Monday, Sullivan claimed that Iran was “preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs,” including combat drones.

However, a senior defense official has confirmed the US Department of Defense has not seen intelligence to indicate that Russia is using Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles in Ukraine.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian did not confirm US claim that Tehran is providing Russia with military equipment, including unmanned aerial vehicles. He assured that Tehran avoids any steps that may result in an escalation in Ukraine conflict.

“We have various forms of cooperation with Russia, including in the sphere of defense, but we are not helping either side involved in the [Ukrainian] conflict because we are certain that it should be concluded. I think that currently the problem is elsewhere – some Western countries, including the US, are manufacturing arms and trying to sell their products,” Amirabdollahian said in his interview with La Repubblica newspaper, commenting on remarks by US Presidential National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Iran’s plans to send drones to Russia.

“We are trying to avoid any actions that may lead to an escalation. We are working on stopping this war,” the Iranian top diplomat added.

He stressed that that Tehran “will avoid any action that could lead to escalation” but we will work to stop the conflict.

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