Military aid provided by the United States and its NATO allies to Ukraine is being found in the hands of Iranians, according to a new CNN report.
“Russia has been capturing some of the US and NATO-provided weapons and equipment left on the battlefield in Ukraine and sending them to Iran, where the US believes Tehran will try to reverse-engineer the systems,” four sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
“Over the last year, US, NATO and other Western officials have seen several instances of Russian forces seizing smaller, shoulder-fired weapons equipment including Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft systems that Ukrainian forces have at times been forced to leave behind on the battlefield,” CNN added.
“In many of those cases, Russia has then flown the equipment to Iran to dismantle and analyze, likely so the Iranian military can attempt to make their own version of the weapons,” the report continued. “Russia believes that continuing to provide captured Western weapons to Iran will incentivize Tehran to maintain its support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
Experts believe that the Iranians are attempting to reverse-engineer the weaponry to adapt it for its own military production.
“Iran has demonstrated the capability to reverse-engineer US weapons in the past,” said Jonathan Lord, a senior fellow and director of the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security. “They reverse-engineered the TOW anti-tank guided missile, creating a near-perfect replica they called the Toophan, and have since proliferated it to the Houthis and Hezbollah. Iran could do the same with a Stinger, which could threaten both civil and military aviation throughout the region. A reverse-engineered Javelin could be used by Hamas or Hezbollah to threaten an Israeli Merkava tank. In the hands of Iran’s proxies, these weapons pose a real threat to Israel’s conventional military forces.”
Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch during a recent hearing would not indicate if the Department of Defense had complied with the law regarding the tracking of weapons it has given Ukraine, under questioning from Rep. Matt Gaetz.
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