CIA Director William Burns said in an interview that aired on PBS that Russia and Iran are working toward a “full-fledged defense partnership” and that such an arrangement threatens the US and its allies in the Middle East.
As an example of Russian and Iranian military cooperation, Burns cited Iran supplying Russia with drones, although Tehran insists that only happened before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
“The Russians are beginning to look at ways in which, technologically or technically, they can support the Iranians, which poses real threats to Iran’s own neighborhood, to many of our friends and partners in Iran’s neighborhood as well,” Burns said.
Iran on Sunday dismissed Burns’ concerns and said that it wouldn’t “seek permission from anyone” before it expands ties with Russia. “Cooperation between Iran and Russia in various fields including defense is expanding within the framework of common interests… and is not against any third country,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.
Kanani also accused the US of making “baseless political” claims about Iran and said such accusations were part of Washington’s “propaganda war” against the Islamic Republic.
“American officials continue their baseless political claims and illegal actions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, questioning the conventional defense and military cooperation between Iran and Russia,” Kanani said.
While the US warns of the growing relationship between Russia and Iran, their stronger ties are the natural result of the US targeting both countries with sanctions. US and other Western pressure against China has also brought Beijing and Moscow closer together, which includes more military cooperation, although China recently reaffirmed it wouldn’t provide arms to aid in the Russian war effort.