For the first time, Iran acknowledged that it supplied Russia with attack drones, but noted that the drones had been shipped to Russia months before its invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been using Iranian-made drones to target essential infrastructure and civilian areas in Ukraine.
The acknowledgment came on Saturday by the Islamic Republic’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. In addition to saying that Iran provided a “small number” of drones to Russia, Amir-Abdollahian also said that Iran has not provided missiles to Russia.
Iran had previously denied supplying Russia with the drones. Amir-Abdollahian denied knowledge that the drones supplied by his country were being used by Russia against Ukraine. “If it is proven to us that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not be indifferent to this issue,” he said on Saturday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy decried this characterization, saying that his country had shot down 11 Iranian-supplied drones on Friday alone. Also on Saturday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps successfully tested a new rocket able to carry a satellite weighing up to 180 pounds into orbit up to 300 miles into space, Iranian state media reported.
The Qaem 100, a three-stage launch vehicle, could one day be used to carry nuclear warheads, according to experts.
The US State Department called the test launch “unhelpful and destabilizing,” Reuters reported. “The United States remains concerned with Iran’s continued development of space launch vehicles (SLVs), which pose a significant proliferation concern,” the State Department spokesperson said.