The Paris-based dissident organization National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) accused the Iranian regime of furnishing Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s army with more than 3,500 drones for his scorched-earth war against Ukraine.
According to reports from the social network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside the Islamic Republic, “Iran’s UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] sale contract to Russia includes various offensive drones, including Shahed-129, Mohajer-6 and suicide drones Shahed-136 and Shahed-131.” MEK is part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran umbrella organization.
The NCRI dossier states, “Tehran has sold more than 3,500 UAVs to Russia. Most of these were made at the factories of the Ministry of Defense, with others produced by the factories of the Iranian Aviation and Space Industries Association (IASIA).”
The allegation that the theocratic government provided more than 3,500 drones to Russia indicates a dramatic increase of the Iranian regime’s support for Putin’s war machine.
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A drone is launched during a military exercise at an undisclosed location in Iran on Aug. 25, 2022. (West Asia News Agency/Handout via Reuters/File)
Recently, Ukraine said that roughly 400 drones have already been used by Russia, from a total supply of approximately 2,000 weapons. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the downing of 223 drones produced by Iran’s regime.
Last week, Zelenskyy stood in the capital city of Kyiv beside what was ostensibly a downed Iranian Shahed drone.
Iran’s attack drones are a source of grave concern for Western countries, including the U.S., seeking to aid Ukraine in its efforts to save civilian lives and oust Russian forces from its territory.
According to the NCRI report, “Some of the UAVs are sent to Russia are from the Qadr Airbase of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps].”
The Trump administration sanctioned the IRGC as a foreign terrorist entity.
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The report said, “When Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the IRGC Quds Force, was killed by the U.S. on January 6, 2020, his body was transferred to the Qadr base. The Qadr base has its own hangars and special services. The Mehrabad airport management does not interfere in its affairs. The Quds Force uses the Qadr base and IRGC-affiliated aircraft companies to send weapons to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.”
The E.U. and U.S. government classified Soleimani as a terrorist, who was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 American military personnel in the Middle East.
When asked about the NCRI report and if the U.S. plans to pull the plug on its nuclear deal negotiations with Iran’s regime in Vienna as punishment for Tehran for selling drones to Russia, a U.S. State Department spokesman told Fox News Digital that, “We’ve been warning since July that Iran was planning to sell UAVs to Russia for use against Ukraine. In September, Russia transferred UAVs it purchased from Iran into Crimea for use in its war against Ukraine.”
The spokesperson continued, “We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kyiv in recent days. We assess that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, center, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, greet each other as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi looks on during their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on July 19, 2022. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
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The spokesperson added, “Russia has received dozens of UAVs so far and will likely continue to receive additional shipments in the future. Furthermore, in light of Russia’s ongoing supply shortages, we are concerned that Russia may also seek to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Iran, such as surface-to-surface missiles, that will almost certainly be used to support Russia’s war against Ukraine. We will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to delay, deter, impede and impose costs on actors involved in such activities.”
The NCRI dossier obtained by Fox News Digital could carry weight within foreign capitals and in Washington. In 2002, the NCRI first revealed that Iran’s regime built nuclear facilities near Natanz and Arak.
Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade in Tehran, Iran. (Reuters)
Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman of National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris, told Fox News Digital, “It is more imperative for the European Union and the U.S. to abandon their wait-and-see approach to the regime. The clerical regime’s malign intervention in hotspots in the Middle East and Europe are well established.”
He continued, “It is time to hold it to account for its egregious human rights violations at home that now includes killing teenage protesters. Continued engagement only emboldens the regime to shed blood in Iran and further destabilize the region and the world. The clerical regime’s persistent violation of U.N. resolutions requires [it] to use the snapback mechanism to re-impose the six U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
The snapback sanctions provision refers to the penalty for Iran’s violations of U.N. resolutions with respect to its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Critics of the Biden administration’s Iran policy, like the NCRI, oppose the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal — because it will, they argue, fund terrorism and not deter Tehran from developing an atomic bomb.
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According to one think tank study published by FDD, the atomic accord will pump as much as $275 billion into Iran’s coffers during the first year of the deal and merely impose a temporary restriction on Tehran’s capability to build a nuclear weapons device.
Gobadi said, “Belligerence and sponsoring terror have been a pillar of the clerical regime’s rule in order to cover up and complement its repression at home, something the regime has been in desperate need particularly in light of the revolution that is going on in Iran.”
“This dangerous development is also the byproduct of the culture of impunity, which the regime has enjoyed despite its egregious human rights abuses at home and its brazen and destabilizing actions beyond Iran’s border,” he continued.
When asked about the NCRI’s report about drone sales to Russia, the foreign ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its diplomatic mission to the U.N. refused to comment.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, right, attends a press conference with Josep Borrell, the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, center, at the foreign ministry headquarters in Iran’s capital, Tehran, on June 25, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
Last week, Iran’s regime categorically denied that it has sealed arms deals with Moscow. Russia denies using Iranian manufactured drones.
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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the allegations are “baseless” and demanded that Ukraine “present any evidence supporting the accusations.” Amir-Abdollahian added, “If … it becomes clear to us that Russia has used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will definitely not be indifferent about this issue.”
Tehran is no stranger to providing arms and combatants to dictatorships in the Middle East and its authoritarian allies across the globe. Fox News Digital reported in 2018 that Iran produced chemical 107-millimeter rockets used in Syrian regime attacks on civilians.
Fox News Digital reached out to the Department of Defense for a comment.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Benjamin has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Forbes and The New York Post. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.