U.S. weapons intended for Ukraine end up in Iran: Report

March 11, 2023
Robert Ayers

At least some of the weaponry that the United States has sent to Ukraine to help with the country's ongoing war with Russia has ended up in the hands of Iran, according to a new report from CNN. 

The outlet obtained this information from "four sources familiar with the matter."

Per CNN:

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 . . .

Tehran, according to CNN, has been successful at doing so in the past.

"To dismantle . . . analyze . . . make their own"

According to CNN, over the past year, U.S. and other Western officials have witnessed "several instances" of the phenomenon described above, namely, Russia taking weaponry - U.S. weaponry - that Ukrainian troops have left behind on the battlefield.

The weaponry that has been taken, according to the outlet, includes Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft systems and other shoulder-fired weapons.

"In many of those cases," CNN reports, "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."

According to CNN, it is unclear whether Iran has successfully been able to do this with the U.S. weapons taken by Russia during the Ukraine conflict. But, Iran has been successful at reverse-engineering U.S. weapons in the past.

CNN provides the example of Iran's Toophan anti-tank guided missiles, which, back in the 1970s, were reverse-engineered from American BGM-71 TOW missiles. Another example provided by the outlet is the U.S. Lockheed Martin RQ-170 “Sentinel” drone, which Iran was also able to successfully copy.


CNN goes on to report U.S. officials as claiming that this problem - the problem of Russia taking U.S. weaponry and giving it to Iran to copy - is neither "widespread" or "systematic."

The U.S. officials further try to allay concerns by stating that Ukraine has been reporting to U.S. officials all of the U.S. weaponry that Russia has taken. But, the officials admitted that this is not an easy thing to keep track of.

This new information from CNN comes as congressional Republicans - particularly those in the U.S. House of Representatives - have intensified their oversight of the various forms of aid that the United States has been sending to Ukraine.

At a recent hearing, House Republicans questioned Department of Defense (DOD) officials specifically about the issue of U.S. weapons ending up in the wrong hands. The Pentagon's Colin Kahl claimed, repeatedly, that there is no "evidence of significant diversion."

CNN's report would appear to contradict this testimony.

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