The US army is analyzing sending thousands of alleged Iranian weapons and over a million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine as part of Washington’s latest bid to fuel the war against Russia.
According to unnamed US and European officials that spoke with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the arsenal would include over 5,000 assault rifles, 1.6 million rounds of small arms ammunition, a small number of antitank missiles, and more than 7,000 proximity fuses that were recently seized in the Gulf of Oman allegedly on their way to Yemen.
While this cache of weapons is small compared to what western nations have sent Ukraine over the past year, Pentagon officials reportedly see in the delivery a symbolic punishment for Iran supplying Russia with drones – a claim both Tehran and Moscow deny.
“It’s a message to take weapons meant to arm Iran’s proxies and flip them to achieve our priorities in Ukraine, where Iran is providing arms to Russia,” one US official told the WSJ.
However, transferring weapons from one conflict to another remains a legal challenge for the White House, as the UN arms embargo on Iran requires western powers to destroy, store, or get rid of the seized weapons.
US President Joe Biden could presumably overcome this legal obstacle “by crafting an executive order, or working with Congress to empower the US to seize the weapons under civil forfeiture authorities and send them to Ukraine,” the WSJ claims.
“What change can this make to war? … They’ve been sending much heavier weapons,” Nasr al-Din Amir, Yemen’s Deputy Information Minister, told the US outlet about Washington’s plans. Since the start of the NATO-instigated war in Ukraine, Washington and its North Atlantic allies have been depleting their weapons stocks to give Kiev a fighting chance against Moscow’s forces.
During a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Monday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “the current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production.” Western leaders recently tried to convince Latin American nations to donate their weapon stocks to Ukraine in their desperate bid to counter Russia, but their suggestion was immediately shot down.
“We are not with either side. We are for peace,” said Colombian President Gustavo Petro last month. Similarly, his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Saliva told Biden during a meeting at the White House: “Brazil is a country of peace. At this moment, we need to find those who want peace, a word that has so far been used very little.”
“I don’t think sending weapons to prolong a conflict has support in Latin America,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told the Financial Times. Argentina also followed a similar line when a spokesperson of the defense ministry confirmed that Buenos Aires “will not cooperate with the war.”
Russia has warned the US and its NATO allies that continuing to send weapons to Ukraine risks involving them in the conflict directly.
Wed, 02/15/2023 – 21:05