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Russia eyes missile purchase as UN restrictions on Iran expire

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s September visit to Tehran featured a display of Iranian military equipment, including the Paveh cruise missile, 358 surface-to-air missile, Ababil, and Fattah missile.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Sochi, Russia on 10 November 2020. Photo: TASS
Russia eyes missile purchase as UN restrictions on Iran expire

Iran and Russia are moving forward with discussions on advanced conventional weapons, potentially including drones and missiles, following the expiration of UN missile restrictions on October 18, 2023, Institute for the Study of War reports.

Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu visited Tehran in September, where he explored opportunities to strengthen defense and military cooperation with Iran. During the visit, Iranian officials showcased various military equipment, including the Paveh cruise missile, 358 surface-to-air missile, Ababil, and Fattah missile.

Furthermore, Iran has a growing interest in exporting its drone technology, with 22 countries expressing interest in Iranian drones, and it is assisting Russia in establishing a drone manufacturing facility. This interaction raises concerns about Russia’s potential acquisition of Iranian missiles, including the Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar, both with ranges of 300 kilometers or more. The visit is part of a broader trend of Russo-Iranian defense industrial interactions, suggesting increased collaboration in the future.

As UN Security Council Resolution 2231’s missile restrictions have expired, Iran gains the ability to export missiles and missile-related technology without international oversight, potentially fulfilling Russian needs. This development comes amid reports of Russia seeking Iranian missiles, with Ukrainian and Israeli intelligence indicating a desire to acquire Iran’s Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles, both exceeding the 300-kilometer range limit set by the UN resolution.

Russia would violate its Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) obligations were it to acquire these missile systems. Iran would violate UNSCR 2231 were it to export these systems prior to the October 18 expiration. Iran is not an MTCR member-state even though UNSCR 2231 references the MTCR’s banned Category I “complete delivery systems,” systems with a 300 or more-kilometer range and a 500 or more-kilogram payload.

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