October 31, 2022 | The Hill

Biden must act on Iran’s drone and missile transfers


“The fact is this: Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that … are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.” That’s how National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby framed Iran’s growing involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Fast-emerging facts on the ground support his assertion.

Ukrainian forces reportedly have killed ten Iranian advisors in a strike against Russian positions. In recent weeks, the Russian military bombarded Ukraine with Iranian-made kamikaze drones like the Shahed-136 – more aptly called a loitering munition. Procured from Tehran this summer, Vladimir Putin’s forces began using the Shahed against key energy infrastructure in Ukraine in September, killing at least five civilians.

Tehran’s transfer of these weapons violates UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2231, the resolution enshrining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which also bans Tehran until 2023 from importing or exporting specific missile and military-related hardware. While the Biden administration has expressed interest in countering Iranian precision-strike capabilities, the pressure it has levied thus far has been inadequate to counter Tehran’s evolving unmanned aerial threats.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where Andrea Stricker is a research fellow and deputy director of the Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program. They both contribute to FDD’s Iran program. Follow Andrea on Twitter @StrickerNonpro. FDD is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


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