US blasts Russia's 'contempt' for UN as body mulls probe into Iran drones in Ukraine

Ambassadors from the UK, France and Germany say drone transfer may have violated Security Council Resolution 2231

A drone is launched from a warship during a drill in Iran in August 2022. AP
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The US on Friday blasted Russia's “contempt” for the UN, as ambassadors from Britain, France, and Germany formally called on the world body to investigate Moscow's alleged use of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine.

“From the beginning of its full-scale invasion, Russia has shown contempt for this council,” said Jeffrey DeLaurentis, acting US ambassador for special political affairs.

“This continues with evidence that since August … Iran has transferred Mohajir and Shahed-series UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] to Russia … used in multiple attacks against Ukraine.”

Jeffrey DeLaurentis speaks at the UN during a Security Council meeting on Ukraine. AFP

In addition to the remnants of the drones recovered in Ukraine, the US official added that there is significant documentation, including photographs and video, of the Iranian drones being used.

Ukrainian forces have released images of what analysts say is wreckage of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that have been fired at targets across the country.

In a two-page letter obtained by The National on Friday, ambassadors from Britain, France, and Germany formally urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to investigate the alleged transfer of Iranian drones for use by Russia in the war on Ukraine.

The three ambassadors to the UN said the transfers would constitute a breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by both Iran and Russia.

“We would welcome an investigation by the UN Secretariat team responsible for monitoring the implementation of UNSCR 2231 and stand ready to support the work of the Secretariat in conducting its technical and impartial investigation,” read the letter.

Resolution 2231 was adopted by the UN's most powerful body in 2015 to endorse an agreement between Iran and the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and negotiations between President Joe Biden's administration and Iran to revive the deal have stalled.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed receipt of the letter and said they “will analyse any information brought to our attention by member states”.

Iran has denied that it has been supplying Russia with drones.

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who rejected the “unfounded” allegations, said Moscow is awaiting confirmation from the UN Secretariat that it will not conduct an investigation into the drones used in a recent attack on Kyiv that killed several civilians.

“We expect that the secretary [general] will provide us with a definitive confirmation that they will not intend to follow the instructions from western countries in violation of the charter and will not conduct any investigation,” Mr Nebenzia said.

Echoing a statement on Wednesday by Russia's deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, he said that Moscow will need to reconsider its relationship with the UN Secretariat should the world body go ahead with the drone inspection.

During a brief visit to New York on Friday, Germany’s Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann called Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine a “flagrant violation of international law”, running counter to all the values for which the UN stands.

“Only if the international community puts Russia in its place will freedom and security have a future in the world,” said Mr Buschmann.

The European Union on Thursday announced sanctions against three Iranian military leaders and an arms firm accused of supplying drones to Russia.

Updated: October 22, 2022, 4:13 AM