Ukraine accuses Iran of violating UN ban on drone transfers

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Ukraine has accused Iran of violating a UN Security Council ban on the transfer of drones that can fly 300 kilometers and invited UN experts to visit the country to inspect Iranian-origin drones that used by Russia against civilian targets.

A letter from Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and members of the UN Security Council was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of a closed council meeting late Wednesday at the request of Britain, France and the United States about the Iran sales of hundreds of drones to Russia.

US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that the United States will join Britain and France to raise the issue at the council meeting.

Kyslytsya tweeted on Wednesday that the issue of Iranian drones used against civilians and civilian infrastructure will also be addressed at an open council meeting on Ukraine on Friday.

Russia is believed to have sent waves of Iranian Shahed drones to Ukraine to attack power plants, residential buildings and other key infrastructure in Kiev, the capital and other cities.

Ukraine’s western-enhanced air defenses have made it difficult for Russian warplanes to operate, and killer drones are a cheap weapon to track and destroy targets, while troops and civilians spread fear.

“As we have seen in recent months, there is ample evidence that Russia is using UAVs from Iran for vicious and deliberate attacks on the people of Ukraine, including civilians and critical civilian infrastructure,” Patel said. “We will express this grave concern about Russia’s acquisition of these UAVs from Iran in clear violation of the UN Security Council (resolution) 2231.”

French UN ambassador Nicolas De Riviere also told reporters on Wednesday “it seems crystal clear” that Iran is violating the resolution.

Resolution 2231 was passed in 2015 by the UN’s most powerful body to endorse the nuclear deal between Iran and six key countries – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – aimed at curbing nuclear activities of Tehran and prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement known as the JCPOA in 2018, and negotiations between the Biden administration and Iran to get the United States back into the deal have stalled.

According to the resolution, a conventional arms embargo against Iran was in place until October 2020, but restrictions on missiles and related technologies will last until October 2023, and Western diplomats say this includes exports and purchases of advanced military systems such as drones.

“We believe that these UAVs transferred from Iran to Russia and used by Russia in Ukraine are among the weapons that would remain under embargo under 2231,” Patel said Monday.

Kyslytsya said in the letter that according to public information in late August, “Mohajer and Shahed series (UAV) unmanned aerial vehicles were transferred from Iran to Russia”, and “Ukraine assesses that this is likely part of Iran’s plans to launch hundreds of UAVs to Russia.”

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He said both UAV models meet the requirement to be banned because they have a range equal to or greater than 300 kilometers. In addition, the Mohajer series is manufactured by Qods Aviation, which is blacklisted by UN sanctions and subject to an asset freeze by all countries, he said.

The Ukrainian ambassador said that no country has submitted a request to the UN for approval of the shipment of UAVs.

“Therefore, the transfers from Iran to Russia should be considered violations of (resolution) 2231,” Kyslytsya said.

He invited UN experts overseeing sanctions against Iran to visit Ukraine “as soon as possible” to inspect the recovered drones, and said the government hopes the information will be “useful” in the UN investigation into the implementation of the resolution.

French UN Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere said: “It seems crystal clear that the service was issued in 2021 and endorsed the JCPOA.

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Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington

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