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Russia’s Arms Acquisitions Mirror That Of Pariah 1980s Iran

Russia’s Arms Acquisitions Mirror That Of Pariah 1980s Iran

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Shortly after Russia received the first batch of “hundreds” of armed drones the White House said it was importing from Iran in August, a classified US intelligence agency revealed Moscow was also seeking “millions” of artillery shells and short-range rockets from North Korea. . According to The New York Times, this is “a sign that global sanctions have severely restricted its supply chains, forcing Moscow to turn to proxies for military supplies.” Moscow’s current situation is somewhat similar to Iran’s in the 1980s, when it too was sanctioned by a couple that had tangled with its expensive and spendthrift neighbor.

Ukraine estimates that its Russian adversary has only 20 percent of its stockpile of mobile short-range ballistic 9K720 Iskander missiles in its arsenal. On September 9, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry representative estimated that Russia has fewer than 200 Iskander SRBMs, which is one reason why it is increasingly using S-300 air defense missiles against ground targets.

So far, Moscow is said to be seeking large quantities of artillery shells from Pyongyang, which makes sense. According to estimates, Russia currently consumes up to 67,000 artillery shells per day in Ukraine.

North Korea has an estimated 6,000 artillery systems aimed at South Korean cities that could kill thousands of South Koreans in just an hour if unleashed. Russia may also seek to use large numbers of North Korean artillery and short-range rockets to continue bombing and destroying Ukrainian urban centers.

The aforementioned Times report, which first publicized the alleged North Korean acquisition, also cited an unnamed U.S. official as saying the U.S. expects Russia to also seek other military equipment from Pyongyang. The official did not elaborate on what kind of equipment. However, it would be crucial if Moscow also sought North Korean ballistic or cruise missiles to supplement its dwindling stockpiles. The same goes for Iran’s missiles.


These seemingly desperate acquisitions in the midst of a costly war of attrition are reminiscent of Iran’s predicament in the 1980s, when it fought an endless and costly war against Iraq in which it engaged in massive artillery battles and suffered massive casualties.

After the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the subsequent takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran later that year, the US imposed an arms embargo against Iran, which had a military arsenal of mainly American and British equipment.

The following year, Iraq invaded Iran.

The Soviet Union offered to sell Iran weapons at the start of the war, but was rebuffed. As a result, Moscow spent the rest of the 1980s arming Tehran’s enemy, Baghdad, instead.

Despite the embargo, Iran kept many of its Western weapons operational, including the highly advanced F-14A Tomcat heavy-duty fighter jets, which required a lot of maintenance.

Iran managed to expel Iraqi forces from its territory and launch a counteroffensive by mid-1982. The war became an increasingly bitter stalemate that lasted another six years and resulted in no lasting territorial gains for either side. All this time, Baghdad had the advantage of importing large quantities of Soviet and French weapons.

Tehran’s options were much more limited.

In 1984, a group of Iranians led by the so-called “Father of the Iranian Missile” Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam (whose fascinating in-depth profile is available in New Lines Magazine) were trained in Syria to maintain and operate Soviet Scud missiles. . But Syria did not supply any of the missiles to the Iranians because the Soviet Union controlled its arsenal.

Similarly, when Iran received Scud missiles from Libya, Libyan military personnel were only allowed to launch them, even though these missiles apparently belonged to Iran.

Moghaddam eventually bought Scud missiles, the Hwasong-5, from North Korea as part of a deal that included building a factory in Iran to assemble more locally.

Iran also bought Chenghu F7 fighters from China during the war, a copy of the ubiquitous Soviet MiG-21 Fitter, but never used them in combat. The jets were far inferior and less advanced than the advanced American fighters such as the F-14 Iran had received before the revolution.

Despite these remarkable efforts by this embargoed couple to acquire weapons, it was not nearly enough for Iran to win its war with Iraq. In 1988, Iran’s military leadership drew up a list of equipment it estimated it would need to win the war, which, as one official recalled, “included a huge number of planes, tanks and missiles.”

“No one would sell us weapons. In any case, we had no money,” Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then the speaker of Iran’s parliament and later president, later said.

As a result, an expedient decision was made to accept the ceasefire, which Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini likened to “drinking a cup of poison” with Iraq. The war ended in August 1988, when at least a million were killed.


There are huge differences between the two wars and time periods, such as Ukraine not starting the current war and nothing like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

However, many other factors are indeed comparable. First, Russia will lose tens of thousands of troops and massive amounts of munitions with little discernible benefit, either strategic or tactical. Also comparable are the few pariah countries that Moscow can turn to for help at the moment, as it is threatened by extensive sanctions.

As the Russia-Ukraine war continues in the coming months, or possibly even years, there are likely to be more, albeit imperfect, analogies to the Iran-Iraq war.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pauliddon/2022/09/10/artillery-from-pyongyang-drones-from-tehran-russias-arms-acquisitions-mirror-that-of-pariah-1980s- Iran/

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