Iranian dissidents warn the hardline regime’s use of drones to cause instability in the region, saying it is using technology – whose materials are imported from China – to make up for weaknesses in its military air.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coordination group of Iranian resistance groups that oppose the regime, released evidence at a press conference that it says shows the production and use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAC) for terrorist operations and to aid its proxies in the Middle East – including aerial photographs of suspected sites and details that have emerged from inside the country.
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“Our revelation today is significant because it shows that the IRGC Quds Force has broadened its arsenal in recent years to intensify terrorism and warmongering in order to destabilize the region by arming its proxies with drones,” Alireza Jafarzadeh, director Washington office assistant. of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Fox News. “This is in line with the regime’s nuclear mistrust and its repression inside.”
The group alleges that the regime, which has been rocked by a series of economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration as well as home protests and challenges related to its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, used a network of industries to spend billions of dollars producing components or smuggling them from foreign countries.
The NCRI report alleges that at least one of the operations, Ghazanfar Roknabadi Industries, provides support and training to the factories of the International Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and uses raw materials imported from the Chinese Communist regime.
The group’s findings also show that a new drone complex, with a specialized drone unit, has been in place in Semnan since 2019 – which includes work on breeding lightweight, silent drones. The drones are then transported in pieces and moved as part of an effort to control the country’s borders.
These are two of the factories that NCRI says are being used as part of the drone project and a project that also includes the regime’s drone command – which is one branch of the air force. of the plan.
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In total, it identifies eight suspected UAV manufacturing bases and seven more for maintenance and other services – as Quds forces work to ensure the drone program equips proxies in the region, including including Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, with advanced technology.
These drones have been used in a variety of ways, including to identify and attack Syrian opposition forces and to help the Houthis in Yemen use drones in their attacks against Saudi-backed forces.
The group also claims that the IRGC made “heavy use of drones inside Iraq” on militant groups, such as the Al-Nujaba group – who allegedly demonstrated their UAV capabilities in parades. .
The NCRI, which has long called for a democratic and secular Iran, calls on countries not to lift new sanctions against the regime until it ceases its aggressive behavior.
“It is time for the United States, Europe and the countries of the region to adopt a firm policy by widening the sanctions and holding [President Ebrahim] Raisi and [Ayatollah] Khamenei will be held to account until Tehran abandons its rogue behavior and ends human rights violations, âJafarzadeh said.
The Biden administration has indicated it wants to join the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the United States withdrew in 2018, and talks are underway in Vienna to bring the two sides back into the deal. international.
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However, since the talks ended in June, a new hard-line president – Ebraham Raisi – has been invested and has since blocked talks with the United States amid calls from Iran for sanctions relief.
“We know they’re going through a transition, but it’s been three months,” a State Department official told Fox last month, adding that the United States “may reach a point where we may have to conclude. [the Iran deal] is no longer viable “and if it is even” still relevant “.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Nick Kalman contributed to this report.