US lawmakers urge Biden to target Iran’s drone industry
Iran’s growing capabilities to manufacture drones have had US officials worried, with a bipartisan group of 60 lawmakers urging the Biden administration to target the country’s drone industry.
The legislators urged Washington to target the Iranian drone program in a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, State Secretary Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
They cited reports that claimed Iranian drones allegedly used by Russia in Ukraine contained parts made by US-based companies.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that Iranian-made drones recovered in Ukraine contain parts that were manufactured in the United States. We ask that you develop a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to interrupt Iran’s supply chains, shut down shell companies used by adversaries to evade sanctions, and pressure allies to crack down on unscrupulous distributors in Europe and Asia,” they wrote.
“Iran’s fleet of drones have far-reaching implications beyond the war against Ukraine,” they added.
The letter came amid repeated, months-long allegations that Iran was supplying Russia with drones to be used in the war in Ukraine. Both Tehran and Moscow have consistently denied the accusations, with Iranian officials saying that Kiev has so far failed to provide any evidence for its claim.
Despite the allegations, however, Iran has not shied away from showing off its defensive drone capabilities.
On Wednesday, Commander of the Iranian Army’s Air Force Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi reported a 33 percent increase in the force’s drone capability compared to a year before.
An advisor to Iran’s intelligence minister also said on the same day that ninety countries seek to buy Iran-made drones. “Westerners and the arrogant countries cannot tolerate this,” he said.
Iran is believed to be among the world’s top five powers in the unmanned aerial vehicles industry.
The country has also been engaged in defense cooperation with Russia, but it recently denied Western media reports that claimed Iran was participating in a project for the joint production of drones with Russia.
Last Sunday, The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed “officials from a country aligned with the US” as saying that Moscow and Tehran have advanced plans to build an Iranian-designed factory in Russia to produce at least 6,000 combat drones.