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Israel fears US arms in Ukraine will end up in Iranian hands

Jerusalem is concerned Tehran will reverse-engineer the weapons and supply them to Hamas and Hezbollah.

A Ukrainian Army transporter. Credit: Milan Sommer/Shutterstock.
A Ukrainian Army transporter. Credit: Milan Sommer/Shutterstock.

Israel is worried that weapons from the United States and other Western countries sent to Ukraine will find their way to Iran and its proxies.

Israel has two main concerns regarding such weapons. One is that Tehran will reverse-engineer them. Another is that Iran will supply those arms to Hamas and Hezbollah, a high-ranking officer in the Israel Defense Forces told Newsweek, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The IDF officer mentioned the transfer of one weapons system specifically, the American Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile system.

Both Russian and Ukrainian forces could transfer U.S. weapons, he said. Russian elements are motivated by the defense alliance between Moscow and Tehran. Pro-Ukraine forces are motivated by financial gain.

The main smuggling route is through the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, he said, noting the situation was “very dangerous.”

“It’s really challenging to build the picture, but we see the signs,” the Israeli commander said. “We see the signs, and this is very, very troubling.”

Another source, working in intelligence for a foreign country, told Newsweek that on Aug. 20, a Russian Il-76 transport aircraft dropped off cargo in Tehran worth an estimated $100 million.

Reportedly in that cargo were U.S.-made Javelins and U.K.-made Next-Generation Light Anti-armor Weapons (NLAWs).

Iran has a long history of reverse-engineering Western weapons. In 2018, an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace and was shot down by the Israel Air Force was determined to have been based on the American RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone.

Iran captured a Sentinel drone in 2011 while it patrolled the border between Iran and Afghanistan.

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