US: Iran sent Ethiopia military drones in 2021 in violation of UN resolution

Timeline put forward by US aligns with Tigray rebel offensive that threatened to take Ethiopian capital

Michael Hernandez  | 18.10.2022 - Update : 18.10.2022
US: Iran sent Ethiopia military drones in 2021 in violation of UN resolution


Iran sent Ethiopia armed drones in the summer of 2021 in violation of a standing UN Security Council resolution, the US State Department said on Tuesday.

Spokesman Vedant Patel said the US informed the UN about the transfer, noting it is in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the landmark 2015 nuclear deal world powers struck with Iran.

"This kind of transfer would fall under this restriction, and would be subject to it," he told reporters, referring to the resolution.

The resolution lifted many sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic in return for Tehran agreeing to curb its nuclear activities and allowing an international inspections regime to take effect.

It also established a 2020 deadline for an arms embargo to be lifted on Iran, which former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully lobbied to have extended. It does, however, maintain restrictions on the transfer of certain military technologies through 2023.

The timeline on the weapons transfers to Ethiopia aligns with when government forces were facing a sweeping offensive by Tigray rebels that left Ethiopian forces on the back foot.

The Tigray People's Liberation Forces pushed south and closed on the capital of Addis Ababa prompting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to declare a state of emergency in November before the rebels were pushed back.

Multiple media outlets reported on Ethiopia's apparent use of the Mohajer-6 drones as the tide of the war shifted in the government's favor, but the State Department's comments are the first government confirmation that the drones had been deployed in the conflict.

The department on Monday said Iran's sale of the drones to Russia to aid its war effort in Ukraine was also in violation of Resolution 2231.

Iran has repeatedly rejected claims from the West that it is supplying domestically manufactured drones to Russia as Moscow ups the ante in Ukraine with a series of kamikaze drone strikes on Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure in recent weeks.

Multiple images posted on social media appear to show Iranian-made Shahed drones, which Russia refers to as Geran-2, in the skies above Kyiv, as well as debris from the aircraft after they struck their targets.

On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba submitted a proposal to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to sever diplomatic relations with Iran due to Iran’s provision of drones to Russia.​​​​​​​

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