Nov 23, 2022 - World

Scoop: Israel lobbies allies with intel on Iranian arms transfers to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (R) in Tehran ahead of on July 19, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on July 19. Photo: Iranian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Israel in recent weeks has provided a dossier with intelligence about Iranian arms transfers to Russia to its embassies in dozens of Western countries and senior NATO officials, according to Israeli officials and Israeli Foreign Ministry cables.

Why it matters: The new diplomatic and intelligence effort, which started at the end of October, represents a change in Israeli behavior around Iran's role in the war in Ukraine, which until last month didn’t include active lobbying on the issue to avoid tensions with Russia.

  • Israeli officials said they hope to use the current focus on Iranian assistance to the Russian war effort as a means for increasing international pressure on Tehran.
  • Iran has repeatedly denied supplying Russia with weapons since the war began, despite growing Western intelligence and evidence to the contrary.

Behind the scenes: Israeli officials said that on Oct. 20, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent a secret cable to a few dozen Israeli embassies in key countries asking them to start raising the issue of Iranian drone transfers to Russia and the possible transfer of ballistic missiles.

  • Shortly after, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent a dossier to the same embassies that included intelligence on Iran’s arms transfers to Russia, Israeli Foreign Ministry cables show.
  • Israeli diplomats delivered démarches on the issue in numerous countries and passed on the dossier, the officials and cables said.
  • The Israeli ambassador to NATO gave the dossier to NATO's deputy secretary-general, and a senior Israeli diplomat traveled to Brussels for a series of briefings on the issue in the EU headquarters and in the European Parliament, according to the cables and Israeli officials.
  • Last week, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow raised the issue with the Russian deputy foreign minister and presented Israel’s concerns, the Israeli officials say.

What they're saying: Israel’s national security adviser Eyal Hulata at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain on Sunday said that in recent weeks Iranian-made drone attacks killed civilians in Ukraine.

What to watch: Israeli officials say they want to organize an international conference in Israel about the proliferation of Iranian-made drones. They've started raising the idea with allies.

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