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Iran denies supplying drones to Russia, denounces calls for investigation

People remove debris at a residential area hit by shelling in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine on Sunday. Photo by Hannibal Hanschke/EPA-EFE
People remove debris at a residential area hit by shelling in Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine on Sunday. Photo by Hannibal Hanschke/EPA-EFE

Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Iran's Foreign Ministry denied supplying drones to Russia amid its war in Ukraine and denounced calls from the United Nations Security Council for an investigation.

The European Council and the British government announced sanctions on Iran on Wednesday for allowing the Russian military to use Iranian Shahed-136 drones in its war against Ukraine. Russian forces launched 40 missiles and 16 of Iran's Shahed-136 drones at Ukrainian infrastructure on Saturday.

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European nations have also called for the Security Council to investigate Iran's supply of drones to Russia, which would constitute a violation of the Iran nuclear deal.

"We reject groundless claims that drones were supplied [by Iran] to be used in the Ukraine war," Nasser Kanani, the spokesman for the foreign ministry, said in a statement on Saturday.

"We have always stressed that all U.N. members should fully abide by the objectives and principles of the U.N. Charter and international law, namely the independence and territorial integrity of countries. We support peace and an immediate end to the war in Ukraine through a political process."

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian spoke with the EU's foreign police chief Josep Borrell in a television conversation on Thursday, Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency reported.

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Amirabdollahian told Borrell that Iran has a defense cooperation with Russia but respects Ukraine's territorial integrity and wants and end to the war.

John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications on the National Security Council, said during a news conference last week that there is "extensive proof" that Russia has used Iranian drones on military and civilian targets in Ukraine.

"Yet both Iran and Russia continue to lie about it, denying that Iran is providing weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine. Iran and Russia, they can lie to the world, but they certainly can't hide the facts," Kirby said.

"And the fact is this: Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons that are impacting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine -- in fact, that are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine."

Ned Price, the spokesperson for the State Department, confirmed Thursday that Russia has received dozens of Iranian drones and that Russian troops based in Crimea have been piloting them.

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