The United States, France and Britain have accused Iran and Russia of violating a U.N. Security Council resolution over Tehran’s transfer of drones to Moscow, which its military then used to repeatedly attack Ukrainian cities.
The three powers said Thursday that Tehran and Moscow violated obligations under U.N. Resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in international law; and by conducting the drone transfers without advance approval from the U.N. Security Council, they had violated the resolution.
They urged the U.N. to address the alleged violations during the semiannual meeting about implementation of the resolution.
“Specifically, the U.N. secretariat should, without any further delay, send a team of investigators to Kyiv to examine the debris from these weapons used by Russia against Ukraine,” said U.S. envoy Robert Wood, adding that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should update the council on his assessment about the Iranian drones recovered in Ukraine within the next 30 days.
So far, Guterres has resisted calls to send a team of experts, saying his office is continuing to examine the available information.
Russia’s envoy said that under Resolution 2231 the U.N. chief has no authority to send experts. Vassily Nebenzia said the United Nations should refrain from “non-consensual visits and arbitrary inspections.”
“The secretary-general is perfectly aware of our position about this,” he added.
Last month, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Moscow had received hundreds of Iranian drones and was working with Iran to begin producing them in Russia, possibly by early next year.
“This is a flagrant violation of Resolution 2231,” Wood told council members of those plans. “We should not be shy about condemning this destabilizing and dangerous behavior.”
Nebenzia dismissed alleged Western evidence as “comical in nature” and said his U.S. counterpart’s remarks were an attempt to “detract attention from the endless flows of weapons provided by Washington to the Kyiv regime.” But he did not directly address whether Moscow had received the drones from Iran.
The meeting was contentious from the start. Russia sought to block Ukraine’s participation in the session, as it is neither a party to the Iran nuclear deal nor a council member. However, 12 of the 15 council members voted in favor of Ukraine participating in the session under a procedural rule that allows countries whose direct interests are affected to do so.
Ukraine’s ambassador said as of Thursday, more than 1,000 Iranian drones had been launched at Ukrainian cities, and debris that had been collected was thoroughly studied.
“Ukrainian investigators and independent international experts identified evidence confirming the Iranian origin of the UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] used by the Russian Federation against Ukraine,” said Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya.
He asked the Russian ambassador if he finds the evidence against Moscow to be fake, why oppose a U.N. inspection to corroborate their position.
Iran’s envoy also rejected the allegations and said he would not recognize the Ukrainian envoy’s presence in the meeting.
“Iran categorically rejects the unfounded allegation made by Ukraine,” Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani said. “Iran maintains its impartial stance to the Ukrainian conflict. We’ve patiently awaited the alleged evidence from Ukraine following the preliminary meeting between Iranian and Ukrainian experts.”
In addition to the drone issue, several council members expressed concern about Iran’s growing stockpile of enriched uranium, which is now 21 times the amount permitted under the 2015 nuclear deal.