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White House Looking at Measures to Respond to Defense Partnership Between Iran, Russia

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby addresses reporters during the daily briefing at the White House on Monday, April 10, 2023.

A top White House spokesperson on Monday warned there are signs Russia and Iran are expanding their “unprecedented defense partnership,” with Tehran providing Moscow with more than 400 drones in the past several months.

John Kirby, a White House national security spokesperson, described Iran as Russia’s “top military backer” and called the relationship between the two nations a “full-scale defense partnership” during a call with reporters. Kirby said the U.S. is considering ways to respond, including through sanctions.

Iran has provided Russia with artillery and tank rounds, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. Since last August, Iran has provided Russia with more than 400 drones, Kirby said.

“Russia has expended most of these UAVs using them to target Ukrainian critical infrastructure,” Kirby said, adding that Iran “has been directly enabling Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.”

Kirby warned of ongoing interactions between Iran and Russia about the sale of advanced weapons, and that if Iran proceeds “there is every reason to believe that Russia will use them to continue their attacks against Ukrainian targets.”

Meanwhile, Russia has been offering Iran defense support through missiles, electronics and air defense systems, Kirby said, and Tehran is seeking to purchase billions of dollars worth of additional military equipment.

The partnership “is directly enabling Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East,” Kirby said.

The Biden administration will work with its allies and the United Nations to hold Russia and Iran accountable for the exchange of weapons and other equipment, Kirby said, with additional sanctions on both nations possible. He pointed to new restrictions to prevent components from Western nations from being used in Iranian drones, as well as new steps to help governments and businesses understand the risks posed by Iran’s drone program.

Monday marked the latest instance of the White House raising alarms about cooperation between Iran and Russia since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago.

The White House in February warned that Russia may provide Iran with fighter jets as part of an expanding defense relationship between the two countries.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said last July that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with hundreds of unmanned drones for use in Ukraine. 

And last November, CNN reported Iran was preparing to send additional weapons to Russia, including short-range missiles.

Source : The Hill