Russia looking to Iran for more weapons, including ballistic missiles

Russia is reportedly providing an “unprecedented level” of military and technical support to Iran which may include advanced military equipment and components, including helicopters and air defense systems in exchange for Tehran supplying drones and possibly ballistic missiles for the war in Ukraine, senior Biden administration officials say.

“This partnership poses a threat not just to Ukraine, but to Iran’s neighbors in the region,” a senior administration official told NBC News. “We have shared this information with partners in the Middle East and around the world.”

Earlier this year, Iranian pilots trained in Russia to fly the Sukhoi Su-35, a Russian fighter jet, which officials say indicates Iran “may begin receiving the aircraft within the next year.”

The relationship between Iran and Russia is transforming into “a full-fledged defense partnership” with weapons and military expertise flowing in both directions, the officials said. Russia is looking to collaborate with Iran on weapons development, including possibly establishing a joint production line for drones in Russia, according to the officials, NBC News reported.

The US believes Iran is also considering the sale of hundreds of ballistic missiles to Russia, the senior administration officials said. And they expect Iranian support for the Russian military to continue to grow in the coming months.

Associated Press meanwhile reported that Moscow is looking to Iran to resupply the Russian military with drones and to perhaps supply Russia with surface-to-surface missiles.

One US National Security Council official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there is growing US concern that Russia may seek to acquire additional advanced conventional weapons from Iran, such as surface-to-surface missiles.

Separately, a UN diplomat said Iran has plans to sell Russia hundreds of missiles and drones in violation of the 2015 Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers, AP reported.

Russia, as a signatory of the 2015 agreement, would be undermining the resolution, and a key question is what Russia will be giving Iran in return for the drones and missiles, the diplomat said, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal information.

The diplomat added that the sales would mark a significant increase in the depth of defense cooperation between Russia and Iran and could have “massive implications for security of the region.” It did not appear the weaponry has been shipped yet but it is ”clearly on the order books,” the diplomat said.