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EghtesadOnline: Iran had provided Russia with a small number of drones months ago and before the start of the Ukraine war, Amir-Abdollahian said.

Iran’s top diplomat dismissed western countries’ claims about the transfer of missiles to Russia for its war on Ukraine, but asserted that a small number of drones had been given to Moscow months before the conflict.

“Their statements in the missiles part are completely wrong, but in the drone part are true,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian told reporters on Saturday, on the sidelines of the meeting of national coordinators of the Group of Friends in Defense of the United Nations Charter, IRNA reported.

He added that Iran had provided Russia with “a small number of drones” months ago and before the start of the Ukraine war.

Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s anti-war position, stressing that the Islamic Republic takes neither side in the Ukraine conflict.

“Our position is cessation of war, return of both sides to negotiations and the return of displaced people to their homes,” he said.

Iran has also asked Ukrainian authorities for evidence of Russia’s use of Iranian drones, according to the minister.

Two weeks ago, a defense delegation from Iran traveled to a European country for a joint meeting with Ukrainian officials to discuss the issue, but they refrained from attending at the last moments, he said.

“The reason was pressure from the United States and some European countries, especially Germany, who had told the Ukrainian side that they intended to sanction Iran over the issue of drones,” he added.

Amir-Abdollahian had also called for documents of Russia’s use of Iranian Unmanned Arial Vehicles in a phone conversation with Ukraine’s foreign minister earlier this week.

“If it is proven to us that Russia has used Iranian drones in the Ukraine war, we will not remain indifferent about it,” he said.

Western countries have accused Iran of supplying weaponry for Moscow to be used in its war on Ukraine.

Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Jens Stoltenberg claimed on Thursday that Iran is offering drones and considering ballistic missile deliveries to Russia.

“This is unacceptable. No country should provide support to Moscow in this illegal war,” he said.

Russia denies its forces have used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.

The US, the European Union and Britain have imposed sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities over the alleged delivery of drones for attacks on civilian Ukrainian targets.

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries with advanced economies, known as G7, also said in a statement on Friday that they would continue to impose economic costs on countries, individuals or entities providing military support for Moscow’s war, naming Iran as an example.

They also said they would support efforts at the UN to hold Russia and Iran accountable for what they called their violations of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

The resolution, that endorses Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, includes an arms embargo on Iran which expired in 2020 and another one which lasts until 2023. Western countries argue that Iran’s supply of drones to Russia violates the international document, while Iran insists that the ban including UAVs expired in 2020.

Foiled Plan B

Amir-Abdollahian also told reporters that Iran’s latest message with regard to negotiations on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal has been delivered to the US by the EU coordinator, Josep Borrell.

“The US side has said that it would review the message carefully and respond to Iran in the next few days,” he said, adding that Tehran is now waiting for their answer.

The 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, offered sanctions relief to Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, but the US pulled out in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions that prompted Iran to row back on its commitments in response.

Negotiations to restore the deal have been stalled for months over final differences, including Iran’s demand for firm guarantees that the US would not violate the deal again.

“The only purpose of these negotiations must be a strong commitment by all sides to complete implementation of their obligations under the nuclear deal,” Amir-Abdollahian said in his address at the Saturday meeting.

He said the US must prove that it has good faith and real will and is not using the platform of negotiations to “kill time” or find an excuse to continue breaching its commitments and retaining its sanctions.

US officials say the talks are no longer on Washington’s agenda given the recent developments, including the alleged drone supply to Russia and the unrest in Iran following the death of a young girl in police custody in late September.

Tehran maintains that US diplomatic communication has been to the contrary and American authorities have voiced interest in concluding an agreement as soon as possible.

“Instead of making up for the past government’s mistakes and unconditional return to full implementation of its commitments, [the US] adopts a double-dealing and hypocritical approach for reaching an agreement,” the Iranian top diplomat said.

The Islamic Republic also blames Washington for provoking and fueling violence among rioters in Iran to further its own political agenda.

Amir-Abdollahian referred to the plots as the “plan B” that US officials always said they would resort to in case diplomacy failed with Iran.

“All the Iranian nation saw over the past 40 days was the plan B that Americans intended to pursue,” he said, adding that the scheme was foiled by the insightful Iranian nation.

Russia Drone Transfer Ukraine war