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Iran preparing to receive advanced Russian jets; reflects closer ties, driven by Ukraine war—report
from www.kurdistan24
26-02-2023 - “The regime in Tehran is directly assisting—in tangible, demonstrable ways—Mr. Putin’s military capability to kill innocent Ukrainian people,” Kirby said
WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – Iran appears to be preparing to take possession of one of Russia’s most advanced combat aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-35, The New York Times reported on Friday.
The prestigious US newspaper cited Iran’s unveiling on Feb. 7 of a new underground Air Force base, called “Eagle 44” (Oqab 44.) Although Russia has not confirmed plans to sell Iran the Su-35, there are indications at the new base, including a full-scale model of the plane, which led the Times to conclude, “Iran is at least making preparations for the arrival of the planes,” which Iranian officials say will occur “later this year.”
“It would be the country’s most significant upgrade to its aging fighter jet fleet in decades,” the Times stated.
The anticipated delivery of the Russian planes is part of a significantly closer military relationship between the two countries, driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
As the Times said, their military cooperation “has been accelerated by Russia’s international isolation and need for military supplies following its invasion of Ukraine.”
Indeed, that is essentially what John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told journalists on Thursday: “We have seen a deepening defense partnership between Iran and Russia with respect to the fighting in Ukraine.”
“The regime in Tehran is directly assisting—in tangible, demonstrable ways—Mr. Putin’s military capability to kill innocent Ukrainian people,” Kirby continued, emphasizing the central role of the Russian leader in that conflict.
“They are sending several hundred drones to Mr. Putin and his military, so that they can use those drones to target civilian infrastructure, to target homes, to target hospitals, to even hit playgrounds,” Kirby stated, underscoring the brutal, indiscriminate nature of the Russian assault on its much smaller neighbor.
Kirby also noted that the “burgeoning defense relationship between Iran and Russia goes both ways.” Washington is concerned not only about Iranian weapons transfers to Russia, but the reverse as well: the possibility that Russia will “help Iran develop even more advanced capabilities, particularly military capabilities that would only further destabilize the region.”
The delivery of an advanced Russian combat plane to Iran would certainly fit that description, although Kirby did not identify any specific weapons system of particular concern.
Broader Impact on US Policy toward Iran: No JCPOA
Russia’s war in Ukraine is the top national security concern for the US. Thus, Iran’s support for Moscow in that war has proven to be a major factor in reshaping US policy toward Iran. Above all, Washington is no longer interested in renewing the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA.)
Indeed, over the past week, the State Department held four press briefings. In three of those briefings, Ned Price, the Department’s Spokesperson, was asked about the US position on renewing the JCPOA. Each time, he gave the same answer: “the JCPOA has not been our focus for a number of months.”
This relatively new position has given the Biden administration more freedom in dealing with other aspects of Iran’s malign activities. As long as renewing the JCPOA was its top priority, it hesitated to raise issues that it considered of secondary importance, lest that alienate Tehran and jeopardize prospects for reviving the nuclear accord. Now, however, that is no longer a concern.
Indeed, earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration was considering using one aspect of Iran’s aggressive behavior to counter another aspect.
US officials are looking at sending to Ukraine arms that the US Navy has seized from Iranian shipments to its proxies in Yemen’s civil war.
That includes, as the Journal reported, “more than 5,000 assault rifles, 1.6 million rounds of small arms ammunition, a small number of antitank missiles, and more than 7,000 proximity fuses seized in recent months” off Yemen’s coast “from smugglers suspected of working for Iran.”
There are legal issues that would need to be resolved, before such a transfer could occur. But whatever the decision, that such a move is even being considered is illustrative of the evolution of the Biden administration’s policy on Iran and the tougher stand it has taken in recent months.

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