Since September at least, Russian forces have been using Iranian-manufactured “kamikaze” drones to attack Ukraine. Moscow also expects Tehran to deliver short-range ballistic missiles that it can put to similar use—a clear violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, passed in 2015. Behnam Ben Taleblu and Andrea Stricker comment:
The United States, as well as Britain, France, and Germany (the “E3”), have decried the Iranian drone transfers as a violation of resolution 2231. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, as well as the EU Council, sanctioned three Iranian persons and one entity supporting Tehran’s drone efforts. Yet America and the E3 could penalize Iran’s violations and prevent them from becoming legal internationally by triggering the reimposition of UN sanctions that were lifted by the Iran nuclear deal—but they have failed to do so. This is in spite of the fact that Iran is in flagrant non-compliance with the atomic accord and, during eighteen months of talks, has refused to revive it.
Iran’s expanding arms-proliferation radius reflects the lack of constraint the Islamic Republic feels from the Biden administration’s overall Iran policy. Iranian drones are not just a Middle Eastern battlefield phenomenon—as they can be found as far away as Venezuela, Ethiopia, and now among Russia’s forces in Ukraine.
With protests raging across Iran and Tehran’s support for Putin’s imperial war in Ukraine deepening, the Biden administration should seize the opportunity to reset the chessboard against the Islamic Republic. Step one requires recognizing that Iranian weapons proliferation will increase so long as Washington sits on the sidelines.