Tehran ‘emboldened’ by Russia’s war in Ukraine as ‘nefarious leaders’ learning from Putin

Putin mouthpiece taunts US over missing nuclear documents

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Iran will respond to the US efforts to revive the 2015 deal that aimed to stop it developing nuclear weapons by tonight, Tehran has said. Tehran will reveal its position on the “final text” to the EU, which has mediated the recent Iranian-US talks that concluded in Vienna last week. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Monday: “If the US shows a realistic approach and flexibility, we can reach the point of an agreement in the next few days.”

The US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 under its then President Donald Trump, who instead reverted to a “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.

Amid the recent talks to revive the nuclear deal, Iran has continued to warn of its abilities to build nukes, although at the same time has stressed that its nuclear programme is purely for civilian use.

However, leading Iran expert, Andrea Stricker, from the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) think tank, has warned that Iran is “emboldened” by Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24.

Asked by Express.co.uk if Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine had encouraged Tehran to pursue nukes, she said: “Yes, absolutely.

“I think Iran is emboldened. All authoritarian regimes are at this point in time.

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“After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and our inability to do much with Ukraine.

“I think a lot of nefarious leaders think that this is now the time to accomplish their objectives.”

In recent weeks, some observers have been alarmed by Iran’s apparent military support for Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Russia’s struggling army, which has suffered heavy losses, has been bolstered by a deal for Iran to supply Moscow with drones, the US State Department said on Thursday.

Last month, US officials warned that Tehran was going to supply Russia with hundreds of drones.

Russian officials went to Iran to view unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), some of which are “weapons-capable”, according to information cited by Washington.

A US official also told CNN: “During the last several weeks, Russian officials conducted training in Iran as part of the agreement for UAV transfers from Iran to Russia.”

Iran has publicly denied claims of a Russian drone deal and during a phone call between the Iranian and Ukrainian foreign ministers.

But Putin has been pursuing stronger ties with Iran, having visited the country last month where he held meetings with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and its President Ebrahim Raisi.

Putin also met Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which marked the Russian leader’s first face-to-face meeting with the leader of a NATO country since he invaded Ukraine.

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Asked if the world should be concerned by a strengthening Iranian-Russian partnership, Ms Stricker said: “Yes, absolutely. Especially with drones. It is really problematic that they will be funnelling drones to Russia to take out more Ukrainians. It could be really devastating to the war.”

She also commented on Russia’s role in the talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which Moscow signed along with Iran, the US, Germany, France, the UK, Russia and China.

She said: “I think we can say that Russia can no longer be seen as any kind of an honest broker in the talks.

“Back in the winter of last year, they held up the talks and they demanded guarantees from the US State Department that they would be able to carry out nuclear projects in Iran under the JCPOA.

“Those would permit them to gain more than $10 billion in revenue for Rosatom carrying out these projects, and the State Department gave them those guarantees.

“So, on the one hand, while we are trying to stop their advances in Ukraine and penalise them economically, we are guaranteeing them a huge financial windfall.

“So, I think the fear is that they will use their cooperation with Iran as a sanctions evasion hub even, so if Iranian financial institutions are freed from sanctions, they may be able to help Russia circumvent global sanctions against its invasion.”

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