Ambassador Barbara Woodward of the United Kingdom to the United Nations stated on Friday that Russia aims to acquire additional weapons from Iran, including hundreds of ballistic missiles, and offers Tehran an unprecedented degree of military and technological support in return.
According to Woodward, Iran has delivered hundreds of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to Russia since August. Woodward claims that Russia has been using these drones in Ukraine to “kill civilians and illegally target civilian infrastructure.”
Woodward told reporters that Russia actively seeks to procure more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles.
“In return, Russia is offering Iran unprecedented military and technical support. We’re concerned that Russia intends to provide Iran with more advanced military components, which will allow Iran to strengthen their weapons capability,” she stated.
She said that the United Kingdom was “almost certain that Russia is seeking to source weaponry from North Korea (and) other strongly sanctioned states” due to the dwindling availability of Russian-made arms.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, told the Security Council later on Friday that Russia had denied receiving Iranian military supplies “on many occasions.”
Russia’s military-industrial complex, he added, “can work perfectly fine and doesn’t need anyone’s assistance,” but Ukraine’s “basically doesn’t exist” without help from Western industry.
The U.N. missions of Iran and North Korea did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Woodward’s statements.
Russia has sought a Security Council meeting on Friday to discuss weapons from the conflict in Ukraine that are “falling into the hands of outlaws and terrorists” in other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and Woodward spoke out on the issue on Thursday.
Iranian officials confirmed last month that their country had provided drones to Russia but insisted the deliveries predated the conflict in Ukraine. Russian officials insist Iran had nothing to do with the drones used in their attack on Ukrainian territory.
In October, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters that their country will supply Russia with surface-to-surface missiles and additional drones.
U.S. officials said on Wednesday that they have observed Iran’s continuous sale of drones to Russia but that they have found no proof that Iran has sold Russia ballistic missiles to deploy against Ukraine.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported to the Security Council earlier this week that the organisation was looking into “available information” about allegations that Iran supplied Russia with drones in response to Western demands to send experts to Ukraine to check downed drones.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Ukraine have all voiced concerns that Russia is supplying Iranian-made drones to the country in defiance of a United Nations Security Council resolution from 2015 that codified the terms of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Russia claims Guterres has no authority to dispatch U.N. investigators to Ukraine to determine where the drones came from.
In his most recent report, Guterres stated that the Security Council’s permission would be needed before Iran could send any drones or ballistic missiles with a range of more than 186 miles (300 km) to another country.