Monday, March 27, 2023

As if the American Jewish community didn’t have enough to concern it in developments in the Middle East and on the world stage, the raging Russian/Ukraine conflict has supplied something new—the Russians’ recent broad use of Iranian-manufactured drones.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in a front page article on October 29: “Russia has launched more than 300 Iranian drones that have targeted military units, power plants, and civilian buildings in the capital, Kyiv. The Ukrainian military said it has shot down more than 70% of the drones, but Ukrainian officials are asking the U.S. and Nato allies for more help to counter the threat.”

The WSJ report notes that Iran has become a leader in drone production, developing its first crude surveillance drone in the 1980s for use in the Iran/Iraq war, and in recent years supplying drones for use by Hezbollah in Lebanon against Israel and the Houti rebels in Yemen. Iran is now providing two drone models for use by Russia in Ukraine: the Mohajer-6, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can carry a multi-spectrum surveillance system along with two precision-guided missiles, and the Shahed-136, a “suicide drone” UAV equipped with an explosive warhead.

In examining Iranian drones they knocked out of the sky, Ukrainian officials found that key parts were made in Europe, Asia and the U.S.—including an Altera/Intel chip and a Texas Instruments processor. This development has attracted the attention and activism of New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-5th district), along with Congressman Andrew Garbarino of New York (R-2nd district) and a growing list of other members of Congress who Congressman Gottheimer has enlisted. Earlier this week Congressman Gottheimer, along with eight co-signatories—Congressman Don Bacon (R-Nebraska), Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-California), Congressman Brad Sherman (D-California), Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D- Virginia), Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-New York), Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Missouri) and Congressman David Trone (D- Maryland)—sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinkin, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, stating: “We are deeply concerned by reports that American technologies, including chipsets, are being used in Iranian Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) produced by Iran and provided to Russia in its war against Ukraine. We have all seen the horrifying images out of Ukraine, and we must do everything we can to put a stop to Putin’s war. We are writing to respectfully request that you brief Congress on the potential of controlled goods, services, and technologies enabling Iranian military support to Russia.”

The letter stated further: “It is crucial that American technology is not used to support Iranian UAS production, which threatens Ukraine, Israel, and our allies in the region. The world’s leading state sponsor of terror cannot be trusted with the sensitive technologies that have been found on the battlefield in Ukraine. Accordingly, we request a briefing on how U.S. goods and services, including technologies subject to the Commerce Control List (CCL) and low-tech commodities classified as EAR99, could be used to support the construction and development of Iranian UAS, including loitering munitions.”

Congressman Gottheimer and Congressman Garbarino introduced the “U.S.-Israel Anti-Killer Drone Act of 2022” bill in the House of Representatives on October 31. The bill recounts five instances over the past four and a half years where Iran or one of its allies has launched Iranian-made drones against Saudi Arabia, Israel or another U.S. ally. The bill instructs the Federal government to

enhance ongoing cooperation with Israel in developing technology and techniques to counter UAS;

share with Israel information about the evolving threat of Iran-origin UAS;

use the United States Israel Operations-Technology Working Group, authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, as the platform for these efforts.

Reached by The Jewish Link, sources familiar with the bipartisan legislation say the provisions could be included in the annual defense investment bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Harry Glazer treats the opportunity to cover breaking national news as a sacred trust. He welcomes feedback on this story and can be reached at [email protected]

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