Russia has struck a deal with Iran to start manufacturing suicide drones on Russian soil, following weeks of attacks on Ukrainian cities with Iranian-made planes, according to a Saturday report.
Western officials quoted by The Washington Post said Russian and Iranian officials finalized the deal at a meeting in Iran earlier this month. They said the information was based on new intelligence seen by US and Western security agencies.
The newspaper, citing three unnamed officials familiar with the matter, said Iran and Russia quickly began transferring designs and key components to begin production of these drones within months.
“It moves quickly from decision-making to implementation. It’s going fast and it’s got a lot of steam,” an official told The Washington Post.
The meeting in Tehran in November involved a team of Russian defense industry negotiators to work out logistics, the report said, citing security officials.
Iran and Russia initially denied the use of Iranian drones in Ukraine, contradicting several Western officials and evidence in Ukraine showing the remains of explosive drones appearing to match Iranian Shahed drones.
Tehran later admitted sending drones, but insisted they were supplied to its ally before Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. Western nations disputed this, saying the first expedition was organized this summer.
Russia launched the drones at Ukrainian energy infrastructure and other civilian targets.
According to some reports, Russia’s supply of drones is running out and the new deal could solve the problem, ending the need to ship them from Iran.
Several Western countries have imposed sanctions on Iranian officials and arms companies for drone deliveries.
Signs of increased cooperation between Moscow and Tehran have added to concerns over Iran’s nuclear efforts, with talks to reinstate the 2015 deal with world powers all but abandoned.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that Iran had asked the Kremlin for help with its nuclear program if it failed to restore the deal.
AP contributed to this report.