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Britain sanctions Iran for supplying drones to Russia

Iran's top diplomat denies reports Tehran plans to send surface-to-surface missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine
Ukrainian firefighters work on a destroyed building after a drone attack in Kyiv on October 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (AFP)

The UK government on Thursday imposed sanctions on three Iranian generals and an arms firm over Russia's use of Iranian drones to bomb Ukraine, matching new EU sanctions.

The Treasury added Iranian drone-maker Shahed Aviation Industries and three top Iranian military officials to its sanctions list, citing the supply of drones to Russia "for use in their illegal invasion of Ukraine".

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said "Iran's support for Putin's brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable".

"Today we are sanctioning those who have supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians.

"This is clear evidence of Iran's destabilising role in global security," he said, after the EU imposed sanctions on the same arms firm and individuals.

Iran prepares surface-to-surface missiles 

Iran's role in the Ukraine war has escalated, with near daily reports of Russia using Iranian-made drones to strike Ukraine, including civilian and energy infastructure.  Those strikes have accelerated as Moscow's military campaign flags, with Ukrainian forces recapturing swathes of territory. 

There are signs that the conflict in Ukraine has emerged as another obstacle to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, with the US State Department saying on Thursday that Iran's drone deliveries to Moscow were in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is officially known.

On Thursday, Iran's top diplomat denied media reports that Tehran planned to send missiles to Russia for use in the Ukraine war. 

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Citing US and allied security officials, the Washington Post reported Sunday that Tehran was also preparing shipments of surface-to-surface missiles. Military analysts and Western officials say Russia's use of Iranian drones is an indication of a depleted missile stockpile. 

"During a telephone conversation with [EU foreign policy chief] Josep Borrell, I told him that our politics... is that we are opposed to the war and its escalation in Ukraine," Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Twitter on Thursday.

"The allegation of sending Iranian missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine is without foundation."

"We have cooperation in defence matters with Russia, but it is certainly not our politics to send arms and drones against Ukraine," Amir-Abdollahian added.

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