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Iran says arms exports up 40% as missiles transfers to Russia take spotlight

Iran boasted significant growth in its weapons exports as its controversial military ties with Russia have come under the spotlight again with reports of new ballistic missile shipments.
An Iranian Navy warship in the Strait of Hormuz, on April 30, 2019.

TEHRAN — Iran's Defense Ministry said the country's arms sales to foreign states have grown by 40% over the course of the past 11 months, as reports suggested that the country has transferred hundreds of ballistic missiles to Russia. 

Tasnim news agency reported on the spike in arms exports on Wednesday. The ministry's spokesman, Reza Talaei-Nik, told a press conference in Tehran that those exports had expanded "in both quantity and quality" but did not offer a list of the shipped weapons. In October 2023, a decades-long UN Security Council arms embargo on Tehran was lifted as part of arrangements enshrined in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Western powers signed with the Islamic Republic with the aim of curbing its ability to acquire atomic weapons.

Iran's most controversial arms exports have been deliveries of combat drones to Russia, which is believed to be using them against the Ukrainian military and civilian targets in deadly operations. Per the official line, Iran denies having sent any such shipments, but has repeatedly confirmed ongoing military cooperation with Moscow. The same assertion was once again echoed by the Defense Ministry spokesman. "The war in Ukraine has not impacted our defense relations with Russia," he said. "These relations are aimed at providing security to the region."      

A day after his statement, a report by the Reuters news agency relying on anonymous Iranian military sources said Tehran had supplied Moscow with 400 ballistic missiles since the start of this year. The report appeared to be in line with statements earlier in January by the White House that raised concerns about the two sanctioned states closing a deal on Iranian short-range missiles.

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