Photo Credit: Ariel Hermoni/MOD
Iran's Mohajer UAV in Venuzuela.

Venezuela is developing Iranian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which can hit targets in the US, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned, pointing to the spreading threat of Iran’s global terror network.

Gantz addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Tuesday night and revealed an image showing that Iran transfers munitions and know-how to Venezuela to produce advanced UAVs and that Iran is also transferring precision-guided missiles to Venezuela.

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Regarding the negotiations in Vienna on the revival of a nuclear deal with Iran, Gantz stressed that “a nuclear deal, if signed with Iran – does not mark the end of the road. It opens the door to important action that must be taken. This includes monitoring open files. It also means stopping the development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.”

“We must not reach this point in the road again – and that means dealing with the sunset clause. Enforcement and supervision by the IAEA are crucial but not enough. We need to have offensive capabilities and a set of sanctions ready in our back pockets in case Iran violates the agreement,” he declared.

Since the signing of the first nuclear deal in 2015, Iran has increased its security budget by 50%, Gantz noted. “We must deal with Iranian aggression and support for proxies and ensure that their so-called security budget is not increased and money is not poured into terrorism,” he cautioned.

Touching on the global scope of Iran’s terrorism, Gantz said he is revealing “just how far Iranian aggression has reached.”

Pointing to an image of a Mojaher- type UAV, Gantz said that he has “brought with me a single image – it really is worth a thousand words. This image shows a model of the advanced Iranian Mohajer UAV, presented by Venezuela’s President.

“In addition to developing Iranian UAVs in Venezuela, our assessments show that Iranian PGMs (Precision Guided Missiles) are being delivered for these UAVs and other similar models. With this image in mind, I can tell you that in my meetings with partners from around the world, including African and Latin American partners – I heard extreme concern about Iranian support for terrorism. Iran truly is a global and regional challenge and not just a threat to the State of Israel,” he underscored.

The Qods Mohajer (“Immigrant”) is an Iranian single-engine tactical UAV built by the Qods Aviation Industry Company in four main variants from 1984. The Mohajer family is primarily used for reconnaissance and is among the most well-known Iranian UAVs.

It has been exported to Iran’s proxies in the Middle East and has been used in the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars. There are reports that Iran sold eight Mohajer-4s to Hezbollah. In addition, the Mohajer-2 is license-built in Venezuela as the Arpia.

Iranian UAVs are also now active in African states and in Venezuela, only 2,000 kilometers away from Florida and in the range of their attacks.

Incidents in recent months and years have provided a glimpse into the devastating manner in which UAVs can be used in modern combat to target strategic sites. They have been used to strike airports and oil fields in Saudi Arabia, both by the Houthis and directly by Iran, used against US forces in Iraq and Syria by Shi’ite militias, and used by Iran to strike merchant ships linked to Israeli businessmen.

The increasing use of UAV swarms, mass attacks of multiple units simultaneously, is also an indication of the future of this weapon system.

In Israel and around the world, the realization of the strategic threat posed by UAVs is sinking in. In September, Gantz said Iran’s UAV arsenal is “one of the most significant tools” developed by Tehran, calling it an “array of deadly weapons which, like ballistic missiles or planes, can cross thousands of miles.”

The US Treasury Department described the expansion of the UAV Army in the region “as a threat to peace and destabilizing international stability.”

Gantz exposed in November that Iran was carrying out attacks using suicide drones launched from its territory and from the countries in which its proxies are deployed, and presented the two major bases in the Shabhar region and the Island of Qeshm in southern Iran, from which operations are carried out against maritime targets and where advanced attacking UAVs are still located today.

Focusing on Israel, the Defense Minister revealed that “in February 2018, Iran launched a m-Shahed 141 UAV from the T4 airport in Syria, which carried TNT explosives. The UAV was intercepted near Beit She’an and its destination was, to our understanding, terrorist elements in Judea and Samaria. Iran not only uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to attack but also to carry out weapons transfers to its proxies.”

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.