As a conference was held in Washington, United States last Wednesday to discuss the Iranian regime’s investments in drone technology, the question remains as to why the regime is funding domestic and international militants and weapons, instead of using the money to solve Iran’s current social and economic crises.
Earlier this year, between April and June, militants who were backed by the regime, launched six drone attacks in Iraq, with American officials taking the threats seriously and stating that they were developing plans for defense against these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Luckily, no casualties were reported during the strikes.
During the conference in Washington, the government institutions and private businesses that are involved in the manufacturing, testing, and training of the regime’s drones were identified. Satellite images of key facilities and details of operations were provided by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said, “While work at some of the featured facilities reportedly dates back at least to 1995, one major complex at Semnan was reportedly established as recently as 2019, while several others underwent significant changes in personnel, organization, or mission around the same time.”
The investments of the drone technology have meant that the Iranian regime has had to redirect their assets for the investments, instead of using the money domestically, especially as Iran is suffering from many crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MEK has frequently reported on how badly Iran has been affected by the pandemic. Official figures from regime authorities for the current death toll from the coronavirus are being reported as just over 120,000, however, the MEK and the NCRI have both said the actual figure is around 451,400, as highlighted by leaked hospital records and surveys from health professionals.
The NCRI said, “According to the regime’s critics, its undercount of infection and mortality rates reflects the persistent influence of early, official disinformation, plus an urgent impulse to cover up the severity of Tehran’s mismanagement of the situation.”
One of the major factors of the mismanagement was the decision by Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, to ban American and European vaccines from being imported, instead of being in favor of producing domestic vaccines or importing them from elsewhere. These vaccines, however, have been less readily available and are much less effective than the leading, reputable vaccines.
In a statement from the NCRI at the conference, they said, “The regime is spending billions of dollars on its missiles and UAV programs while 80 percent of the Iranian people live under the poverty line and the budgets for health care, education, and other national requirements are abysmally lower than military expenditures.”
They placed some of the blame on Western powers and stated that with the sanctions eased under the 2015 nuclear deal, little to no benefit was provided to Iranian citizens, and the regime managed to get away with their corrupt activities.
The latest drone operations in Iraq have shown just how much the regime is in alliance with other countries, to smuggle equipment and share technical knowledge, as well as to train proxy terrorist groups on how to work the drones. While the regime is selective about who they train to use the UAVs, within the existing networks of terrorist proxy groups, smaller, specialized groups are forming, causing further fear of the technology getting into further wrong hands.
The NCRI said, “None of the sanctions against the regime should be lifted until it has stopped all its rogue behavior and intransigence in the region.”