September 28, 2023

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Washington getting in a sweat over Iran’s growing number of arms deals

TEHRAN – Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, the efficacy of domestically-made Iranian drones has been the talk of the town. 

Iran has been making technologically-advanced missiles, drones, radar systems, helicopters, submarines, etc. for almost a decade now but it was not until recently that it got to tout its weapons as literal game changers in a potential war.  Though both Tehran and Moscow deny Iran’s provision of arms to Russia, it is widely believed that the latter only got to gain the upper hand in its war against the NATO bloc thanks to the Iranian-made Shahed 136 drones. These are the same drones that at the very first days of being used, were being called “lawnmowers” by Western media. But how is that the same outlets are now worried that these flying grass-cutters could be sold to more countries?

A CNBC article published on July 31 has talked about the growing concern in Washington over Iran’s increasing number of customers. The article mentions Bolivia and Iran’s latest deal which includes the selling of Iranian drones to the South American country.

According to Bolivian Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo, the recent agreement was based on the 2007 Bolivia-Iran cooperation framework agreement and included the provision of Iranian drones, boats, and cybernetic protection.

Bolivia has been a country of great significance to the U.S. as according to American experts it serves as a “test case” and a “bridge” to the rest of South America. Washington significantly lost influence in the country when in 2019 the U.S.-backed government got toppled by the military. Now Bolivia is seeking even more independence from the White House by purchasing weapons from its rival in West Asia: Iran

The article points out how Iran has been able to make high-technology drones despite heavy Western sanctions aimed to pose production and trade challenges. A U.S. government report early this year which had assessed an alleged Iranian drone used in the Ukraine war, showed 52 components separated from the craft had been manufactured by different American companies. The remaining 12 pieces had been made by companies in Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, and China. Also, American media claims Iranian drones have so far been sold to several countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. 

But Shahed 136s aren’t the only drones the U.S. has to worry about. When Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visited North Kora last week, he was seen checking out Pyongyang’s military advancements during a parade, while being accompanied by the North Korean leader himself.  At one point Shoigu was looking at what seemed to be similar to Iran’s Shahed 149 drones.

Iran has other strategic equipment it has sold too. According to a report by the U.S. military, Iran has sold small boats to Venezuela, which are capable of carrying lethal projectiles. Iranian missiles are also alleged to be deployed in the South American country.

Iran has now entered a market that has been strictly reserved for Western governments in the past decades. After the successful use of Iranian arms in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, Tehran’s weapons are now more directly pointed at the West by entering South America and Europe. 

It seems that despite decades of harsh and debilitating sanctions, Iran has come a long way in terms of its military advancements, and is determined to become a global supplier of arms that have very successfully proven to be effective. 


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