The U.S. warned Friday of the expanding bonds between Iran and Russia, with White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby calling the development in their bilateral ties “a full-fledged defense partnership.”
Moscow could be giving Tehran helicopters and air-defense systems, and the two countries are engaged in “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership,” Kirby told reporters on a conference call, citing U.S. intelligence.
The two countries “are considering the establishment of a joint production line for lethal drones in Russia,” he added, according to The Hill. It’s not clear where Iran is in its deliberations on the production line, but one benefit for Tehran could be “an unprecedented level of military and technical support” from Russia if it took the deal.
“I think it’s important because . . . this burgeoning relationship, partnership, between these two countries is not just bad for the people of Ukraine . . . but it’s dangerous for the region, for the Middle East region, for Iran’s neighbors,” Kirby added. (RELATED: Iranian Troops In Crimea Supported Russian Drone Strikes, US Official Says)
The concern comes as the U.S. has warned that Iran has been supplying drones to Russia amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia received its first shipment of Iranian drones in August, with U.S. officials concerned that Iran could send “hundreds” more to aid the invasion.
Russia has not received any ballistic missiles from Iran, Kirby said Wednesday.
“We know that their defense industrial base is being taxed,” Kirby said about Russia, Reuters reported. “We know they’re having trouble keeping up with that pace. We know that [Russian President Vladimir Putin is] having trouble replenishing specifically precision guided munitions.”