by Majid Rafizadeh - Gatestone Institute Stop Iran Now - January 23, 2023 (originally published December 31, 2022)
The Iranian regime is not only sending drones to Russia to crush Ukraine, but other materiel as well. By providing weapons to a major power such as Russia, the Iranian regime is asserting itself as a key player enjoying significant military power on the global stage.
Evidently the lethal nuclear deal that will enable Iran to have all the nuclear weapons it wants and missiles with which to deliver them -- and for which the Obama and Biden administrations have been pining for nearly a decade so that, most likely, Iran will not try them out on their watch but wait for somebody else's -- is not yet dead, according to reports from Israeli officials.
For the length of a coffee-break, there were rumors that, because the Iranian regime was sending drones to Russia to help crush Ukraine, the deal was – finally – off the table, supposedly for good. In what must be one of the shortest-lived policy decisions ever, that arrangement now seems off the table for good.
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is not only sending drones to Russia to crush Ukraine, but other materiel as well.
Thanks to the Biden administration, Russia and the Iranian regime's deepening and dangerous relationship appears to be reaching a peak.
Militarily speaking, Russia is moving to provide advanced military equipment to the Islamic Republic, including air defense systems, fighter jets and helicopters. This can only make the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism -- which chants "Death to America", "Death to Israel", and kills its own citizens -- a stronger and expansionist state.
Moreover, instead of just shipping its drones, Iran is planning to set up a drone assembly line in Russia to help Moscow in its war against Ukraine. Russians will be reportedly training Iranians pilots on how to use the Su-35 fighter jet.
Even White House National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby recently had to admit that Russia was offering Iran "an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership."
Regarding Russian Su-35 fighter jets, Mr. Kirby acknowledged that "These fighter planes will significantly strengthen Iran's air force relative to its regional neighbors." British Defence Minister Ben Wallace also revealed to the UK parliament regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict that "Iran has become one of Russia's top military backers..."
"In return for having supplied more than 300 kamikaze drones, Russia now intends to provide Iran with advanced military components, undermining both Middle East and international security — we must expose that deal. In fact, I have, just now."
The Iranian regime has been supplying kamikaze drones to Russia which led to the Ukrainian foreign ministry stripping Iran's ambassador in Kyiv of his accreditation and reducing the embassy's diplomatic staff there, according to the Ukrainian foreign ministry's press service.
The EU also acknowledged that the Iranian regime is indeed "provid[ing] military support for Russia's unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine," via "development and delivery of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Russia".
"By enabling these strikes," British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly noted in a statement, "these individuals and a manufacturer have caused the people of Ukraine untold suffering." The ruling mullahs of Iran have also been sending troops to Crimea to assistRussia in its attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure and civilian population, and to increase the effectiveness of the suicide drones.
Intriguingly, the White House admitted on October 20, 2022 that it had evidence that Iranian troops were "directly engaged on the ground" in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks. According to Kirby:
"The systems themselves were suffering failures and not performing to the standards that apparently the customers expected... So the Iranians decided to move in some trainers and some technical support to help the Russians use them with better lethality."
Russia and the Iranian regime have also ratcheted up their financial dealings. Tehran, hit by draconian financial sanctions, is seeking partners to increase its trade and skirt US sanctions. According to the latest report by Bloomberg:
"Russia and Iran are building a new transcontinental trade route stretching from the eastern edge of Europe to the Indian Ocean, a 3,000–kilometer (1,860–mile) passage that's beyond the reach of any foreign intervention.
"The two countries are spending billions of dollars to speed up delivery of cargos along rivers and railways linked by the Caspian Sea. Ship–tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show dozens of Russian and Iranian vessels—including some that are subject to sanctions—already plying the route."
For the Iranian regime, militarily speaking, the Russia-Ukraine war is an opportunity for the ruling mullahs to learn from the performance of their drones on the battlefield, in order to further perfect them.
By providing weapons to a major power such as Russia, the Iranian regime is also asserting itself as a key player enjoying significant military power on the global stage.
Finally, we should not dismiss the idea that Russia will also help the Iranian regime to advance its nuclear program. Moscow and Tehran previously worked together to construct several nuclear reactors in Iran and advance the regime's nuclear technology. It has become all too clear that the Islamic Republic is rushing to cross the nuclear threshold to become a nuclear-armed state. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned:
"I have a question for you – how does Russia pay Iran for this, in your opinion? Is Iran just interested in money? Probably not money at all, but Russian assistance to the Iranian nuclear program. Probably, this is exactly the meaning of their alliance."
The question of course is: What does the Biden administration intend to do about it?
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu