Russia is providing Iran with an "unprecedented" level of military assistance in exchange for Tehran's deadly armed drones as the two nations reach new levels of cooperation, the White House said on Friday.
"Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a virtual briefing.
"This partnership poses a threat not just to Ukraine, but to Iran's neighbors in the region. We have shared this information with partners in the Middle East and around the world," he added.
The new relationship has included Russia training Iranian pilots on its SU-35 fighter jets since this spring, which "indicates that Iran may begin receiving aircraft within the next year."
"These fighter planes would significantly strengthen Iran's Air Force relative to its regional neighbors," said Kirby.
Russia also plans to provide the Islamic Republic "with advanced military components," Kirby said, adding that the Kremlin may already be supplying Iran with helicopters and air defense systems.
The flow of military equipment is not one-way, however, with Iran supplying Russia with drones that Moscow has used to bolster its offensive against Ukraine. Several hundred have already been provided as Iran considers selling Moscow hundreds of ballistic missiles, Kirby said.
"We have also seen reports that Moscow and Tehran are considering the establishment of a joint production line for lethal drones in Russia," he said. "We urge Iran to reverse course, not to take these steps."
The US and its allies have previously said Iran's provision of military drones runs afoul of UN Security Council resolutions.