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US warns Iran against providing ballistic missiles to Russia

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The Biden administration on Thursday (22 February) warned Iran of a “swift and severe” response from the international community if Tehran provided ballistic missiles to Russia, after Reuters reported earlier this week that the Islamic Republic shipped the powerful weapons to Moscow.

Speaking at a virtual briefing with reporters, White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby said Washington has yet to see confirmation that missiles have moved from Iran to Russia.

Reuters exclusively reported on Wednesday that Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, citing six sources, a move that illustrated the deepening military cooperation between the two US-sanctioned countries.

“In this press reporting, the Iranians are clearly indicating that they will ship ballistic missiles to Russia, and we have no reason to believe they will not follow through,” Kirby said.

“For our part, we will take this matter to the UN Security Council,” he added. “We will implement additional sanctions against Iran. And we will coordinate further response options with our allies and partners in Europe and elsewhere.”

Iran’s provision of around 400 missiles includes many from the Fateh-110 family of short-range ballistic weapons, such as the Zolfaghar, three Iranian sources told Reuters. This road-mobile missile is capable of striking targets at a distance of between 300 km and 700 km, experts say.

The shipments began in early January after a deal was finalised in meetings in Tehran and Moscow late last year between Iranian and Russian military and security officials, one of the Iranian sources said.

Iranian-made Shahed drones supplied to Moscow have played a major role in Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure but supply of ballistic missiles would be a sign of even deeper cooperation.

Read more with Euractiv

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