LONDON: British missiles sent to help Ukraine that may be captured by Russia and passed on to Iran for reverse engineering purposes are not a major concern for the UK, its defense secretary has said.
Ben Wallace told Sky News that it is a known risk that Russia could send captured British anti-tank missiles meant for Ukraine to Iran, but that it is not a huge cause for concern as the missiles do not contain cutting-edge technology.
“Fundamentally, that is the risk we took when we decided it was important to help Ukraine,” he said. “Iran has a track record of reverse engineering. It’s always been very cunning at taking technologies from abroad and trying to turn it into its own capabilities.”
The NLAW anti-tank missiles that the UK has supplied Ukraine with are hugely effective pieces, but are not fitted with next-generation technology, Wallace said.
“That will mean there will be differences in it between what the Iranians — if they do have NLAWs — develop and what we have, and that goes the same for the US Javelins,” he added. “So I’m not particularly worried. But of course, it was a risk we took as a calculation.”
Wallace said the UK is looking into a Sky News report this week that Moscow had flown British and US anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles intended for the Ukrainian military to Tehran along with €140 million ($144 million) in August, which Russia then exchanged for dozens of drones set to be used against Ukraine.