By John Irish
PARIS, Oct 13 (Reuters) – France’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that any transfer of Iranian drones to Russia would be a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.
Three drones operated by Russian forces attacked the small town of Makariv, west of Ukraine’s capital, early on Thursday, with officials saying that critical infrastructure facilities were struck by what they said were Iranian-made suicide drones.
“We note a great deal of information that reports the use of Iranian drones by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, in bombardments that were aimed at civilian targets and which likely constitute war crimes,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said in a daily online briefing.
“Such a supply of Iranian drones to Russia would also violate United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.”
Resolution 2231 endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – that limited Tehran’s uranium enrichment activity, making it harder for Iran to develop nuclear arms while lifting international sanctions.
Under that resolution, an arms embargo on Iran was in place until October 2020. Despite U.S. efforts under former president Donald Trump, who took the United States out of the deal in 2018, to extend the arms embargo, the Security Council rejected this, paving the way for Iran to resume arms’ exports.
However, the resolution still includes restrictions on missiles and related technologies that last until October 2023 and that encompass the export and purchase of advanced military systems.
A diplomatic source said the drones in question fell under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an informal political understanding among states that seeks to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology and whose sale would violate the resolution.
Efforts to revive the nuclear deal have stalled and ties between Iran and the West are increasingly strained as Iranians keep up anti-government protests despite an increasingly deadly state crackdown.
Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.
Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Legendre said Paris was coordinating with its European partners on how to respond to the potential transfer of Iranian drones to Russia.
(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Alex Richardson and Gareth Jones)