Several medias inlcuding Reuters reported President Emmanuel Macron issued a stern warning to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a phone call on Saturday, cautioning against the delivery of drones to Russia. Macron’s office expressed deep concern over Iran’s support for Russia’s involvement in the war in Ukraine and urged Iran to immediately cease such assistance. The French president also highlighted apprehensions regarding the trajectory of Iran’s nuclear program.
The supply of Iranian-made drones to Russia has drawn international condemnation, with Britain, France, Germany, the United States, and Ukraine arguing that it violates a 2015 U.N. Security Council resolution that upholds the Iran nuclear deal. The White House confirmed on Friday that Russia had been intensifying its defense cooperation with Iran, having acquired a significant number of one-way attack drones for use in strikes against Ukraine.
Bloomberg noted that according to intelligence findings released by the White House, Russia is importing supplies from Iran to establish a domestic factory dedicated to manufacturing Iranian-designed drones specifically for the conflict in Ukraine. The National Security Council revealed satellite images of two buildings in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone, located approximately 650 miles east of Moscow, indicating that the drone plant could be operational by early 2024. This development suggests a deepening military collaboration between Russia and Iran, with the former employing Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in recent weeks to target Kyiv and instill fear among the Ukrainian population.
In a separate report, state media disclosed that President Raisi and President Macron engaged in a lengthy phone call, discussing avenues to enhance bilateral relations and addressing ongoing negotiations and regional developments. The call, which lasted for 90 minutes, resulted in both leaders agreeing on a roadmap for engagement. The 2015 nuclear accord, which granted Iran relief from international sanctions in exchange for constraints on its nuclear program, remains a central topic of concern.
However, efforts to revive the nuclear deal have thus far proven futile, compounded by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the agreement in 2018 and the subsequent reimposition of sanctions on Iran. Tehran subsequently suspended its compliance with certain commitments, including restrictions on uranium enrichment. Recent progress in Iran’s cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog led to the closure of the file related to the discovery of nuclear material at an undeclared site, an issue that has long strained relations between Iran and the international community.
As tensions rise in the Ukraine conflict, Macron’s warning to Iran emphasizes the gravity of the situation and underscores the international community’s determination to curb the supply of Iranian drones to Russia. The roadmap for engagement agreed upon by Macron and Raisi may serve as an opportunity to address the broader challenges surrounding the Iran nuclear deal and regional stability. However, significant obstacles remain in the ongoing efforts to revive the agreement and de-escalate the tensions in the region.