Iran inks defense deal with Russia ally Belarus

The Cradle, August 2, 2023 —

The two countries have recently been exploring the idea of joint military cooperation, particularly in the field of drone technology.

Iran and Belarus signed a defense agreement on 31 July, enhancing the already existing cooperation between the two countries. 

Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani signed a memorandum of understanding with his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Gennadievich Khrenin during a meeting in the Iranian capital. 

The two officials held discussions on a number of topics, including the war in Ukraine, Iranian media reported. 

“Belarus holds a special place in Iran’s foreign policy,” the Iranian defense minister said. 

The news was also confirmed on social media by the Belarusian defense ministry. 

The agreement comes as the two countries have been exploring prospects for military cooperation, particularly in relation to drone technology and the production of Iran’s Shahed drones, which last year appeared on the Ukrainian battlefield. 

In May, a delegation of Iranian engineers sponsored by Moscow visited Belarus to study the idea of producing Shahed drones there. 

Months earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited Iran for talks with his Iranian counterpart. 

Belarus is considered one of Russia’s most strategic economic and political allies. Last month, Lukashenko announced that Russia was deploying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the first transfer of such weapons outside of Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. 

The boost in Iranian-Belarusian defense ties comes as the eastern European nation has followed in the footsteps of Iran and many other countries in applying to join the BRICS group, a rapidly expanding economic partnership between nations with emerging economies that aims to create an alternative to the dominant western-led financial system. 

It also comes in the wake of a defense deal between Iran and Bolivia, which was latest Latin American country to sign a defense deal with the Islamic Republic, following in the footsteps of Nicaragua and Venezuela. 

Following the signing of the defense deal between Iran and Bolivia last week, US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, told Voice of America (VOA) that Washington is concerned about the export of Iranian technology and its “destabilizing” role. 

In response, former Bolivian president Evo Morales condemned the “interventionist attitude” of the US towards deal. 

“We emphatically condemn the interventionist attitude of the US that, with double standards, tries to question Bolivia’s interest in acquiring drones from Iran. The same country that uses these remote-controlled aircraft as a weapon of war tries to prevent other states like Bolivia from using them for security tasks and the fight against drug trafficking,” he said. 

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