UK launches investigation into British universities’ assistance to Iran drone programme – Middle East Monitor

The British government has launched an inquiry into reports that universities in the United Kingdom assisted the Iranian government in developing technologies for its drone programme.

Last week, the London-based newspaper, the Jewish Chronicle reported its own findings that 11 British universities had collaborated with Iranian counterparts or research institutions to help develop technologies and components that have been – at least potentially – used in Tehran’s construction of fighter jets and drones.

Iran has, for at least over the past year, supplied those unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Russia throughout its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Suicide – or ‘kamikaze’ – drones produced by Tehran have particularly been used to effect against Ukrainian military and civilian targets.

The reports raised concerns amongst media outlets and political figures in the UK as to how such collaboration was able to take place and how certain  ‘dual-use’ components, which can potentially be used for military purposes, could be exported to Iran, despite the UK’s ban on such exports to the country.

READ: Why Iran and Britain can never be friends

Addressing the issue in Parliament yesterday, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, stated that “We take all allegations of breaches of export controls seriously … We will not accept collaborations which compromise our national security.”

According to the Financial Times, some of the implicated universities responded to the reports of their developmental assistance, with Imperial College insisting that “We have comprehensive guidance for our academics to ensure that they are aware of and comply with the appropriate national security legislation and their responsibilities when working with international collaborators.”

Cranfield University also assured that “We review our security policies and processes on a continual basis to ensure that research activities fully comply with guidelines and legal obligations.”

London’s investigation into the allegations comes as the United States warned American businesses this month to ensure that they are not unknowingly supplying electronics or other components that may be used by Iran to manufacture the drones.

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