The Biden administration has launched an interagency task force to investigate how US and western-made components are ending up in Iranian-produced military drones being used by Russia in Ukraine, according to a report published Wednesday.
The US has led a sweeping international campaign intended to deprive Russia of being able to access advanced western technologies since the Kremlin began its war in February, and has for years maintained a large-scale sanctions campaign against Iran that is intended, in part, to do the same for Tehran.
But the efforts appear to have been short on results. Analyses of downed Iranian-supplied drones used by Russia in Ukraine found in November that the majority of parts in the unmanned aircraft originated in the US, Europe or other western-allied nations.
Ukrainian intelligence services determined that three-quarters of the parts in Iranian drones were made in the US, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported last month, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter and documents it reviewed.
The findings, as well as those from other researchers who examined the Iranian drones, prompted the administration to launch its task force, CNN reported.
The probe “intensified” recently after US intelligence services determined that Moscow is planning to open a factory for drone production inside Russia, said the news network.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby acknowledged the development Dec. 9, saying Russia and Iran are transforming their military relationship into “into a full-fledged defence partnership.”
“We urge Iran to reverse course, not to take these steps,” he said.
CNN previously reported that Iran has already begun initial steps toward the development of a drone production facility in Russia, saying the Islamic Republic has transferred key elements, including blueprints and components, to Russia.
The White House and National Security Council did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the reported task force, but CNN described it as a sweeping effort that is drawing on multiple US agencies, including the Pentagon, State, Commerce and Treasury departments.
It is an “all hands on deck” situation, an anonymous source told CNN.
In addition to identifying how US-made components are ending up in Iran, the task force is seeking to identify ways the US can act to restrict Tehran’s access to western-developed technological components.