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ISW: Iran likely to open drone factory in Belarus

Iran seeks to build drone factories in Belarus, which would allow Russia to purchase Iranian drones more easily and provide Iran with numerous economic and military benefits
Shahed 136
Iranian-made Shahed-136 one-way attack drone. Photo: Sobhan Farajvan
ISW: Iran likely to open drone factory in Belarus

According to ISW, Iranian Armed Forces General Staff Chief Major General Mohammad Bagheri called for greater defense industry cooperation between Iran and Belarus during a meeting with Belarusian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Viktor Khrenin in Tehran on 1 August

Iranian Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani signed a military cooperation agreement with Khrenin on 31 July, the Institute for the Study of War said in its daily report.

Ashtiani and Khrenin may have discussed establishing Shahed kamikaze drone factories in Belarus to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, ISW concluded.

On 8 June, the US reported that Iran helps Russia to build a drone manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga special economic zone near Moscow.

Media: Russia’s Shahed drone production uses underage student forced labor, recruits Africans via dating scams

“Russia will benefit by acquiring Iranian drones for its invasion of Ukraine more readily. Israeli and Ukrainian media have noted that the construction of an Iranian drone factory in Belarus would alleviate the ‘logistical problems’ Russia faces in transporting Iranian drones from Iran to Russia via the Middle East. The Biden administration published a map in June showing Iranian drone transfers from Iran to Russia through the Caspian Sea,” the Institute said.

“Iran will benefit by receiving revenue for the Iranian economy. The British Secret Intelligence Service revealed in July that Iran seeks to acquire cash from Russia in return for Iranian drones. Iran is currently facing critical economic conditions, with the value of the rial surpassing 500,000 rials to one US dollar on 1 August. The Iran Statistical Center reported on 25 July that Iran’s inflation rate is approximately 47.5 percent.”

Russia can also benefit Iran’s military. Western media speculated in late 2022 that Iran might receive Russian Su-35 fighter jets in return for supplying Russia with drones, ISW claims.

Western media reported in March that Russia provided Iran with advanced surveillance software and cyber weapons in exchange for drones. A high-ranking Israeli military official separately expressed concern in June that Russia is providing Iran with Western weapons captured in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War added.

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