Russia is seeking to obtain hundreds of ballistic missiles from Iran as Tehran becomes a major military backer of Moscow, British defense officials warned on Saturday.
Iran first faced international wrath earlier this year when the White House announced it knew Tehran would “give away” hundreds of drones to Russia as Moscow’s supplies showed signs of dwindling a less than six months into his war in Ukraine.
But Tehran has since taken even bolder steps, sending more missile units and agreeing last month to streamline Russia’s ability to develop Iranian drones on its territory for use in Ukraine.
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“Iran’s support for the Russian military is likely to grow in the coming months as Russia is attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles,” the British defense ministry said in an intelligence update on Saturday. “In return, Russia is very likely to offer Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their defense relationship.”
The assessment echoed comments made Friday by White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby that US intelligence suggested that Moscow is offering Tehran “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a true advocacy partnership”.
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British defense officials said on Saturday it was “very likely” that Russia had used a substantial proportion of its SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles – which can carry a warhead weighing 1,000 pounds with a range of more than 300 miles – ever since his invasion of Ukraine more than nine months ago.
“If Russia manages to bring large numbers of Iranian ballistic missiles into service, it will likely use them to continue and expand its campaign of attacks against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure,” the ministry warned.
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Kirby stressed that Russia has also been training Iranian pilots on Sukhoi Su-35 fighters and said Tehran could start receiving the aircraft within the next year.
The NSC spokesman promised that the United States and its allies would use all possible tools to “expose and disrupt these activities.”
“And we are ready to do more,” he added.