British defense officials warned on Saturday that Russia was seeking to acquire hundreds of ballistic missiles from Iran as Tehran became one of Moscow’s biggest military backers.
Iran first faced international anger earlier this year when the White House announced it knew Tehran would “gift” Russia hundreds of drones as supplies from Moscow showed signs of dwindling less than six months after the war in Ukraine.
But Tehran has since taken bolder steps, sending in additional missile units and last month agreeing to simplify Russia’s ability to develop Iranian drones on its turf for use in Ukraine.
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“Iranian support for Russian forces is likely to increase in the coming months: Russia is trying to acquire additional weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles,” the MoD said in an intelligence update on Saturday. “In return, Russia will most likely provide Iran with unprecedented military and technological support, which is changing their defense relationship.”
The assessment echoed comments made by White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Friday, who said U.S. intelligence had suggested Moscow was providing Tehran with “unprecedented military and technological support that is transforming their relationship into a comprehensive defense partnership.” .”
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British defense officials said on Saturday that Russia is “highly likely” to use up most of its SS-26 Iskander short-range ballistic missiles — which can carry warheads weighing up to 1,000 pounds and have a range of more than 300 miles — since Invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago.
“If Russia succeeds in fielding a large number of Iranian ballistic missiles, it may use them to continue and expand strike operations against Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure,” the ministry warned.
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Kirby emphasized that Russia has also been training Iranian pilots in the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, and said Tehran could begin receiving the jets next year.
A spokesman for the National Security Council promised that the US and its allies would do everything in their power to “expose and disrupt these activities”.
“We are prepared to do more,” he added.