Biden launches investigation into how 82% of components found in drones made in Iran, deployed by Russia and downed in Ukraine are manufactured in the US
- White House has launched an ‘all hands of deck’ task force with multiple agencies to find out how US-made components are ending up in Iranian drones
- Russia has been using Iranian-made drones to wreak destruction on Ukraine
- News of the task force comes ahead of President Zelensky’s visit to the US today
Joe Biden has launched a task force to investigate how US and western components are ending up in Iranian-made drones being used to wreak havoc in Ukraine.
Despite strict export controls in place to prevent Iran from obtaining such materials, evidence has emerged that Tehran is finding more than enough commercially-available tech – including US-made microelectronics – to manufacture the drones.
UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research found last month that, upon examining drones downed in Ukraine, 82 percent of their components were made by companies in the United States.
In response, the White House has now launched an ‘all hands on deck’ task force involving agencies from across Washington – including the departments of Defense, State, Justice, Commerce and Treasury – according to sources cited by CNN.
Joe Biden has launched a task force to investigate how US and western components are ending up in Iranian-made drones (pictured in Ukraine) being used to wreak havoc in Ukraine
The White House has now launched an ‘all hands on deck’ task force involving agencies from across Washington – including the departments of Defense, State, Justice, Commerce and Treasury – according to sources cited by CNN
With the fighting in the east at a stalemate, Moscow has used hundreds of the drones to attack Ukraine’s power infrastructure, hoping to leave people without electricity as freezing weather sets in. The attacks have killed dozens of civilians.
Tehran has denied supplying Russia with the Iranian-built Shahed-136 ‘suicide drones’, despite compelling evidence on the contrary.
The explosive-laden drones are launched in groups, making them hard to defend against, and crash into their targets. However, they can be brought down with small-arms fire. Ukraine has successfully downed several of the drones.
The devices that have been brought down were investigated by Conflict Armament Research and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Processors built by Dallas-based technology company Texas Instruments as well as an engine made by Austrian firm owned by Canada’s Bombardier Recreational Products were among the components found in the drones, investigations found.
Both companies have released statements condemning the use of their components in the drones. Texas Instruments told CNN that it is ‘not selling any products into Russia, Belarus or Iran,’ and that it ‘complies with applicable laws and regulations in the countries where we operate, and partners with law enforcement organizations as necessary and appropriate.’
It added: ‘Additionally, we do not support or condone the use of our products in applications they weren’t designed for.’
Bombardier Recreational Products said in a statement on its website that it had launched an investigation into how its engines ended up in the drones.
‘BRP has not authorized and has not given any authorization to its distributors to supply military UAV manufacturers in Iran or Russia,’ the statement said.
The discovery of western components in the drones demonstrates how relatively cheap consumer products can be retrofitted for military purposes. Such items often fall outside of sanctions and controls on export.
UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research found last month that, upon examining drones downed in Ukraine, 82 percent of their components were made by companies in the United States. Pictured: The tail of a downed drone in Ukraine
Ukraine has experienced frequent and deadly aerial attacks. After a series of battlefield setbacks, Moscow stepped up its aerial campaign to target the country’s energy grid in an attempt to break morale. Pictured: Firefighters in Ukraine work after a drone strike
The officials told CNN that investigations into the drones intensified in recent weeks amid intelligence that said Russia was planning on opening its own drone factory as part of a deal with Tehran.
Iran has already started to transfer drone blueprints and components to Russia to kick-start the production there, CNN said, in what represents a dramatic escalation in the military partnership between the two ostracized nations.
The new initiative to investigate how US components are being used in the drones is being overseen by the White House National Security Council, as part of a wider ‘holistic approach’ to dealing with Iran, a senior source told the news network.
This will also cover Tehran’s crackdown on protestors, its nuclear program, and its involvement in the on-going war in Ukraine.
However, it is the Iranian drones that are perhaps the most pressing issue, on account of their use of US equipment. Many of the components in the drones were manufactured in the last couple of years.
Conflict Armament Research said it its report that the drones they examined in November had ‘higher-end technological capabilities.’ These included tactical-grade sensors and semiconductors sources outside of Iran.
This, the report said, demonstrates that Tehran ‘has been able to circumvent current sanction regimes and has added more capabilities and resiliency to its weapons.’
Police officers shoot at a drone during a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine October 17, 2022
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News of the taskforce comes ahead of Ukraine’s President Zelensky’s visit to the US, where he will meet Joe Biden and address Congress in Washington on Wednesday, a visit the White House said will send Russia a strong message of Western unity.
The visit will ‘underscore the United States’ steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes,’ White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The secretly arranged trip comes on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet his top military officials to assess the conflict in Ukraine and set goals for next year in what the Kremlin described as an ‘important, voluminous speech’.
It will be Zelensky’s first trip outside Ukraine since Russian forces invaded in February, when they planned for a rapid takeover of Kyiv and much of the country.
Instead, the visit to Washington comes on the 300th day of a war that has seen Russian forces halted by a stubborn Ukrainian army backed by Western arms, forced to retreat from captured territory and struggling to avoid further setbacks.
“On my way to the US to strengthen resilience and defense capabilities of (Ukraine),” Zelensky tweeted, also confirming that he will make a speech to Congress.
Drone attacks on Monday wounded three people near Kyiv. They came as Russia said it shot down several US-made missiles over its airspace near Ukraine.
‘I first heard the air raid siren… I thought there is going to be a drone attack. For the first time, it scared me,’ said Natalia Dobrovolska, a 68-year-old resident of Kyiv.
She described hearing multiple explosions before power shut off in her building in western Kyiv. Officials said Russia had flown in 35 attack drones nationwide, including 23 over Kyiv.
Pictured: Debris fragments collected as evidence by a U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal team aboard M/T Pacific Zircon from an Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicle, according to U.S. Navy, are seen in this photo taken on November 16, 2022 and released by U.S.Navy on November 22, 2022
Ukraine said it downed 30 of the aerial weapons, including Iranian-made ‘Shaheds’, which have pummelled the capital in recent weeks.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said critical infrastructure facilities were damaged while regional authorities said nine homes had been scarred by the attacks.
Ukraine has experienced frequent and deadly aerial attacks. After a series of battlefield setbacks, Moscow stepped up its aerial campaign to target the country’s energy grid in an attempt to break morale.
With winter setting in, missile and drone attacks have plunged cities around the country into darkness, and severed water and heat supplies to millions of Ukrainians.
Speaking to the leaders of several NATO countries via video link on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukraine’s allies to supply its military with more weapons. Biden is expected to oblige, by sending Patriot missile defense systems.
‘Russian aggression can and must fail. And our task now is to accelerate it,’ Zelensky told the leaders assembled in Riga.
He said in a late-night address Sunday that some nine million of Ukraine’s estimated 40 million people had their electricity restored after Russia’s previous missile barrage last week.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a year-end news conference, said with regret that he expected the war ‘will go on’. ‘I am not optimistic about the possibility of effective peace talks in the immediate future,’ Guterres said.
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