British defense officials warned on Saturday that Russia was looking to buy hundreds of ballistic missiles from Iran as Tehran became one of Moscow’s top military backers.
Earlier this year, Iran faced international criticism for the first time when the White House announced that it had information that Tehran would “gift” hundreds of drones to Russia, as supplies dwindled less than six months into Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
But Tehran has since moved even faster, sending more missile parts and last month agreeing to streamline Russia’s ability to develop Iranian drones domestically for use in Ukraine.
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“Iran’s support for the Russian military could increase in the coming months: Russia is trying to acquire more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence report on Saturday. In return, Russia will offer unprecedented military and technical support to Iran, which will change their defense relationship.
The assessment echoed comments by White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Friday, who said US intelligence said Moscow was offering Tehran “unprecedented levels of military and technical support, transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership”.
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British defense officials said Saturday that Russia’s SS-26 Iskander could use a significant portion of its short-range ballistic missiles, which can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and have a range of more than 300 miles. invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago.
“If Russia manages to launch a large number of Iran’s ballistic missiles, it will use them to continue and expand its campaign to strike Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure,” the ministry warned.
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Kirby emphasized that Russia is also training Iranian pilots on the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, and said that Tehran could start receiving the planes as early as next year.
The spokesman of the National Stats Commission promised what tools the US and its allies will use “to expose and disrupt these activities.”
“We are ready to do more,” he added.