Iran weapons proliferation is risk ‘to us all,’ warns EU chief
Manama, Bahrain — Iran’s “weapons proliferation” is a threat to Europe, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen warned Friday, hinting at further sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Tehran is teaming up with its biggest ally, Russia, to undermine “our global order” by providing weapons such as drones, she told the Manama Dialogue conference.
“Several Gulf countries have been warning for years about the risk that Iran feeds rogue nations around the world with drones,” von der Leyen said in Bahrain, the tiny island state that lies between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“It took us too long to understand a very simple fact that while we work to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, we must also focus on other forms of weapons proliferation, from drones to ballistic missiles.”
“It is a security risk not just for the Middle East, but for us all,” she added.
On Monday, the European Union hit more than 30 senior Iranian officials and organizations with sanctions over the ongoing crackdown on protesters in the Islamic republic.
Tehran has warned of a “proportionate and firm” response to the EU over the expanded sanctions.
But von der Leyen hinted at further sanctions against Iran, which is witnessing massive protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest for allegedly breaching Iran’s dress code for women.
“We are coordinating with partners and allies to take further sanctions against Iran responding to the proliferation of Iranian drones,” von der Leyen said.
Iran has admitted that it sent drones to Russia but insisted they were supplied to its ally before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s military said it had recorded 26 kamikaze drones along with 111 Russian missile strikes on Tuesday, as Moscow — facing growing losses on the ground — steps up strikes on energy infrastructure.
By “teaming up,” von der Leyen said Iran and Russia are “undermining the basic rules and principles of our global order.”
“It is a recipe for constant foreign interference, for never-ending violence and instability. And we simply cannot accept this. And we will not accept this,” she said.
Von der Leyen added that Europe has replaced most of its Russian gas with supplies from “reliable” sources.
“Our storages are full at 95 percent — and we are safe for this winter. Our challenge will be next year’s winter,” she said.
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