What we know
In the bowels of the Iranian drones shot down by the Ukrainian army hides a secret: many parts of these planes sowing terror in Ukrainian cities were manufactured in Europe and the United States, despite Western sanctions prohibiting export to Iran of dual-use technologies, both civilian and military.
According to the Ukrainian intelligence services, quoted by the Schemes investigative cell of the Ukrainian service of Radio Free Europe (RFE) in an article published on November 4, the Mohajer-6 contains manufacturing elements from several dozen companies based in North America, Europe, Japan or Taiwan. RFE was able to identify at least 15 of these manufacturers, after examining a drone shot down by Ukrainian forces near the coastal town of Ochakiv, in the Mykolaiv region.
The companies identified by RFE, including the Austrian subcontractor of a Canadian aeronautical company and several American companies, all denied having sold their technology to Iran or Russia and having had knowledge of any military use of their technology.
In addition, the Wall Street Journal revealed on October 29 that the Shahed-136 drones, the other Iranian model used by Moscow, also contained Western-made parts. Additionally, weapons experts told the newspaper that Iranian engineers were likely able to salvage and copy parts from downed US and Israeli drones for use in their own drones.
The revelation of the Western origin of several parts of the Mohajer-6 contradicts the official version of the Islamic Republic. Indeed, during the official announcement of the UAV’s creation in July 2019, Brigadier General Chahram Hassanejad, commander of the Iranian army’s drone manufacturing unit, said that it was the product of cooperation between the army, the Ministry of Defense and the company Quds Aviation Industries, according to the daily Tehran Times.
Mohajer-6s and Shahed-136s have been used by Moscow since early October to carry out attacks against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.
On Saturday, November 5, after denying kyiv’s accusations, the Iranian Foreign Minister finally admitted that Tehran delivered to Moscow “a limited number of drones, months before the war in Ukraine”. However, the ABC journalist specifies that the Mohajer-6 captured by the Ukrainian army was manufactured last February. Ukraine, for its part, claimed that “around 400 drones” from Iran had already been used against the Ukrainian population and that Moscow had ordered around 2,000.
The EU and the United States have for several years imposed economic and financial sanctions under UN resolutions to stop the Islamic Republic from enriching uranium for nuclear proliferation. After the US unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, these sanctions have increased further.
In September, the US Treasury ordered new sanctions targeting Iranian companies that Washington links to the production and transfer of drones to Russia. “Non-Iranian and non-Russian entities should also be careful not to support the development of Iranian drones, or their transfer,” said Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the US Treasury.
On October 20, the European Council for its part implemented sanctions against three Iranian citizens and an Iranian entity, accused of having played a role in the development and delivery of drones used by Russia in its war. against Ukraine.
RFE clarifies that “the presence of these parts in the Mohajer-6 does not mean that the manufacturers are violating American or European sanctions, and RFE has no proof that this is the case”.
Iran circumvents these sanctions thanks to a globalized network allowing it to obtain dual-use technology from the United States and the European Union, using front companies and intermediaries located in third countries. , says the survey. “Going through third countries allows operators from sanctioned countries to give the impression of being legitimate buyers,” says Daniel Salisbury, associate researcher at King’s College London. This makes it possible to “deceive customs services, intelligence agencies and industries”, he adds.
In 2019, the US Treasury Department already warned against the practices used by Iran to obtain US coins, such as, in addition to the use of front companies, “the assertion that the activities are authorized by the organization financial control of the Treasury (OFAC)” or “the use of trading companies based in free trade zones”.
The access granted by the Ukrainian intelligence services to the American media RFE and ABC is part of an information war in which kyiv is trying to guarantee ever greater support from its American and European allies. Since Russia bombarded its soil with Iranian drones, Ukraine has also been seeking support from Israel, Tehran’s regional enemy, particularly in the area of air defence. Thus, after keeping its distance from kyiv so as not to offend Moscow, Israel agreed to share intelligence concerning Iranian drones used by Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on October 26, referring to the “beginning of cooperation” between the two countries.
What we know Inside the bowels of the Iranian drones shot down by the Ukrainian army hides a secret: many parts of these planes sowing terror in Ukrainian cities were manufactured in Europe and the United States, despite the sanctions Western policies prohibiting the export to Iran of dual-use technologies, both civilian and military. According to…