The Pentagon says it has no evidence to suggest that Iran has provided Russia with ballistic missiles, days after reports emerged that Tehran was supplying such weapons to Moscow as its stockpile of conventional missiles was running low.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Pentagon’s spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said the US military could not confirm the allegations about Iran. “We do not have any information to corroborate right now that Iran has delivered ballistic missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine.”
He said the Pentagon would “continue to keep a close eye on” the matter. But Washington does “have concerns” Moscow might “seek to acquire that capability,” he said.
His remarks came days after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s aide, Mikhail Podoliak, called for strikes against the Iranian military-industrial centers producing combat drones and ballistic missiles.
Kiev claims Iran has supplied Russia with kamikaze drones. The Ukrainian government also alleges that drones designated by Moscow as Geran-2 are actually Iranian-made Shahed-136 UAVs.
Furthermore, a number of media outlets claim Tehran also sold ballistic missiles to Russia. Tehran and Moscow both have rejected such claims.
Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian dismissed propaganda about Iran’s support for Russia in the Ukraine war.
“Our relations with Russia are based on mutual interests. I would like to emphasize here that the fuss made by some Western countries that Iran has provided Russia with missiles and drones to help it in the Ukraine war, claims about the missile part is completely wrong and the drone part is correct,” he said.
But Amir-Abdollahian hastened to add that Iran provided Russia with a limited number of drones months before the war in Ukraine broke out, assuring that Iran would not be indifferent if it is proven that Russia has used Iranian drones in the war.
“We agreed with Ukraine’s foreign minister that if they have any documents proving Russia has been using Iranian drones in Ukraine, Kiev should provide these documents to us,” the Iranian foreign minister said.
US military officials confirmed the delivery of two advanced NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine after Kiev on Monday confirmed it had received such systems.
On Tuesday, Ryder confirmed the delivery of NASAMS systems but did not give any indications on whether any Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) have also arrived in Ukraine.
“These systems will contribute to Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and will help protect the Ukrainian people against Russian aerial attacks to include those conducted by unmanned aerial vehicles or cruise missiles,” Ryder said.
NASAMS – the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System – is manufactured as a joint venture between US-based Raytheon Technologies and Norway’s Kongsberg Defense and Aerospace. The system is a distributed and networked short- to medium-range ground-based air defense system, designed to shoot down drones, helicopters, cruise missiles, and crewed fixed wing aircraft.
Russia commenced what it called a "special military operation" in neighboring Ukraine on February 24, with the declared aim of “de-Nazifying” the country. Since the onset of the operation, the United States and its European allies have imposed waves of economic sanctions against Moscow while supplying large consignments of heavy weaponry to Kiev over Russian objections.
The Kremlin has time and again warned Washington that punitive measures against Moscow by the US and its allies and pouring advanced weapons by them into Ukraine will only prolong the war.