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Iran Sent Missiles To Russia, Defence Secretary Indicates

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi standing in front of the new Iranian long-range ballistic missiles (Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo)

3 min read

Grant Shapps has delivered the clearest hint yet that Iran has supplied ballistic missiles to Russia.

The Defence Secretary all-but confirmed reports of Tehran’s missile shipments in an interview with The House magazine. 

“Whether it's ballistic missiles, or the Shahed drones that they supplied Russia with, we've seen that if there’s struggle in the world, often Iran are egging it on, or helping to supply the food chain in this case. They are a bad influence, not just on their region, but in this case in Europe as well,” he said.  

Iran officially denied reports last month that it had provided Russia with surface-to-surface ballistic missiles to support Putin’s ongoing war against Ukraine. Iran had supplied around 400 missiles in total to Russia, according to six sources quoted by Reuters. The shipments were said to have included Fateh-110 short-range ballistic weapons, such as the Zolfaghar, which is capable of striking targets at a distance of between 186 and 435 miles.   

The United States – which has already placed sanctions on both Russia and Iran – has said that there would be a severe international response if the deal had taken place. 

Speaking to The House, Shapps said there was a limit on what he could divulge about the shipments but gave a clear indication that long-range missiles were included. Sources close to the Defence Secretary did not challenge the inference that the Reuters report was correct. 

Iran’s defence ministry and the Revolutionary Guards, which oversees Iran’s ballistic missile programme, declined to comment when news of the deal was initially reported.  

According to one source quoted by Reuters, the shipments of missiles began in early January following a deal brokered last year between Iranian and Russian military and security officials in Tehran and Moscow. 

One Iranian military official said four shipments of missiles had already been sent, with more coming in the new few weeks. Another senior Iranian official said some of the missiles were flown to Russia by plane, and others sent by ship via the Caspian Sea. 

“There will be more shipments,” the second Iranian official said to the news agency. “There is no reason to hide it. We are allowed to export weapons to any country that we wish to.” 

The United Nations Security Council had imposed sanctions on Iran’s export of missiles, which were due to expire in October. However, the United States and European Union kept these sanctions in place due to concerns Iran would continue exporting such weapons to its Middle-East proxies and to Russia. 

White House national security aide John Kirby voiced concern about Iran supplying Russia with short-range ballistic missiles in January. At that point, Washington had seen evidence of talks surrounding the delivery of missiles, but had no indication weapons had changed hands. 

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