scorecardCIA director says Russia is offering to help Iran's advanced missile program in exchange for military aid
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CIA director says Russia is offering to help Iran's advanced missile program in exchange for military aid

Sinéad Baker   

CIA director says Russia is offering to help Iran's advanced missile program in exchange for military aid
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
CIA Director William Burns at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va., July 8, 2022.    AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File
  • The CIA's director said Russia and Iran's partnership is growing in a "very dangerous direction."
  • William Burns said Russia was likely offering Iran help with its missile program in exchange for military aid.

Russia is likely offering Iran help with its advanced missile program in exchange for military aid for its war in Ukraine, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency said on Sunday.

William Burns was speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," where he noted that Iran had given weapons to Russia that were subsequently used in Ukraine, including in incidents where civilian infrastructure was targeted.

He said that the relationship now appeared to be developing further.

"What we also see are signs that … Russia is proposing to help the Iranians on their missile program and also at least considering the possibility of providing fighter aircraft to Iran as well," he said.

National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that US officials believe that Russia may be planning to give Iran military jets after Iran sent much-needed artillery rounds to Russia.

Firefighters work after a drone fired on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022
Firefighters after a drone struck buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022.      AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna

Iran has been building up its missile arsenal for years, including long-range and ballistic missiles.

While the US has sought to limit Iran's missile program through sanctions, it said in 2019 that Iran had managed to build the "largest missile force in the Middle East."

The war in Ukraine could have inadvertently helped its cause.

Burns said that the collaboration between Iran and Russia is "moving at a pretty fast clip in a very dangerous direction right now."

A composite image showing a drone in the sky and the aftermath of its strike on Kyiv on October 17, 2022.
A composite image showing an Iranian drone in the sky and the aftermath of its strike on Kyiv on October 17, 2022.      YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images; Insider

"We know that the Iranians have already provided hundreds of armed drones to the Russians, which they're using to inflict pain on Ukrainian civilians and Ukrainian civilian infrastructure," he said.

Russia started to using Iran-made "kamikaze" drones in Ukraine in October, as part of a new playbook that targeted power distribution and other critical infrastructure far from the front lines.

The drones are called "kamikaze" because they explode when they crash into their target, inflicting considerable damage.

Russia has turned to isolated nations for support as it faces global backlash and sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. Alongside Iran, this includes North Korea, according to the White House.

The US and NATO have also said they see evidence that China may be planning to give Russia weapons.

Burns also said that Iran's nuclear enrichment program was more advanced than previously known, describing it as "advanced very far to the point where it would only be a matter of weeks before they can enrich to 90%, if they chose to cross that line."

He said the US does not believe that Iran had resumed its efforts to make nuclear weapons, which it stopped in 2003, but that it was advancing its ability to enrich uranium, which could then be used to make nuclear weapons if Iran chose to do so.




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