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White House accuses Iran of helping Russia build a drone factory near Moscow

Declassified US intelligence report states that Iran is providing Russia with materials to keep its war machine in Ukraine running

Bevan Hurley
Friday 09 June 2023 17:03 BST
Ukraine: Soviet-era dam destroyed near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Iran is providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant near Moscow, according to a newly-declassified US intelligence report released by the White House on Friday.

The plant in the Alabuga special economic zone several hundred miles east of the Russian capital will be used to counter Ukraine’s latest offensive and could be operational early next year, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

The White House released declassified satellite imagery from April of the industrial location where it believes the plant “will probably be built.”

The White House also described how drones are being shipped across the Caspian Sea from the Iranian city of Amirabad to Makhachkala, in Russia, and then transferred to two air bases to be deployed in attacks on civilian populations in Ukraine.

“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community,” Mr Kirby said, according to the Associated Press.

“We are continuing to use all the tools at our disposal to expose and disrupt these activities including by sharing this with the public — and we are prepared to do more.”

The latest declassified report is a continuation of the US’s strategy to publicise ties between the two countries to undermine Russia’s invasion.

The US has previously warned of deepening military ties between Tehran and Moscow.

This image provided by Maxar Technologies and released by The White House shows an industrial site several hundred miles east of Moscow where US intelligence officials believe Russia is building a drone factory with Iran’s help, (Maxar Technologies via AP)

In December, the Biden administration said it believed Tehran and Moscow were considering standing up a drone assembly line in Russia for to support its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

In exchange, Russia offered Iran “unprecedented defense cooperation” including missiles, electronics and air defences, Mr Kirby said in February.

Russia has also provided the Tehran regime with tactical support as it tries to stamp out a popular uprising at home

Russian forces have been terrorising Ukraine since the fall of 2022 with attacks from Iranian-made suicide drones.

Russia has used them to target residential buildings, playgrounds, power stations and bridges resulting in dozens of civilian deaths, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

The White House is preparing to release a new advisory for businesses and governments to ensure they are not inadvertently aiding the Iranian-Russian nexus, Mr Kirby added.

The US and its European allies have issued new rules in recent months to attempt to cut the flow of drone parts to the two countries, he said.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin announced Russia will begin deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus in months.

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