US policy on Iran will focus on keeping Iranian weapons out of Russia and supporting protesters in the country, rather than negotiations to restart the nuclear deal, which have stalled. Robert Malley, US special envoy for Iran, told Bloomberg.
“Iran is not interested in a deal and we are focused on other things. Right now, we can make a difference by trying to contain and disrupt Russian arms supplies and by trying to support the fundamental aspirations of the Iranian people,” Malley said.
On October 13, for the first time, Western countries officially admitted the possibility of curtailing negotiations on the resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's Nuclear Program (JCPOA). The reason for this was the suppression of protests in Iran, John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the White House National Security Council, wrote Vedomosti. According to Kirby, Washington is focused on "holding the [Iranian] regime accountable for what it does to innocent political protesters."
A wave of protests swept Iran in September. They were linked to the killing by the vice police of 22-year-old activist Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly violating the hijab law. As a result, many Iranians also stopped wearing it. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said 14,000 people, including children, were arrested during the protests.
At the same time, France called information about the use of Iranian drones by Russia as part of the hostilities in Ukraine as a reason for curtailing negotiations on the JCPOA. Russian officials deny the use of such drones.
In November, British television channel Sky News reported that a Russian military aircraft had secretly delivered €140 million to Iran in exchange for drones. According to these data, on August 20, at the Tehran airport, the Russian side handed over to Iran the cash delivered by the Il-76 transport aircraft. In addition, US and British weapons seized in Ukraine were handed over to Iran, including NLAW and Javelin anti-tank systems and Stinger MANPADS. So the Russian side paid for the delivery of the first batch of 160 Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles. This batch included 100 Shahed-136 kamikaze drones and six large Mohajer-6 UAVs.
According to a Sky News source, in the past few days, another deal was agreed between Tehran and Moscow for the purchase of UAVs worth €200 million.
On November 8, Ukrainian intelligence reported that Iran supplied its drones to Russia after the start of the war in Ukraine. This is evidenced by the details of the drones, which were manufactured later than February 24, 2022.
Russia regularly shells Ukraine with Iranian Shahed-136s, disguising them as its own drones with the domestic name "Geran-2". At the same time, both Russia and Iran deny the supply of drones. To prove that they are Iranian, Ukraine invited UN experts. However, the Russian Federation began to blackmail the UN with the rejection of the "grain deal" if the organization's experts decide to investigate the drones. In October, Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog showed US officials photos confirming that Russia was using the Shahed-136 in the war in Ukraine. He compared photos of the engines of Iranian ammunition and drones shot down in Ukraine - they turned out to be similar.
On November 5, Iran admitted for the first time that it supplied drones to Russia, but, as Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said, the drones were delivered in small numbers and a few months before the war.