Iran's top military general said Sunday that Tehran is determined to strengthen its drone industry and cooperate with other countries in manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, hailed the country as "one of the top five drone powers in the world".
Speaking at an event in Tehran, Bagheri said the Iranian-made drones have achieved global prominence in terms of "accuracy, durability and missions", attributing it to "37 years of experience" since the Iran-Iraq war.
"We continue to develop drones," the top military general said. "And in accordance with the interests and policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we cooperate with other countries in the field of drones."
He, however, stopped short of naming any specific country with which Tehran is cooperating in developing UAVs.
Western governments have in recent months accused Iran of supplying drones to its all-weather-ally Russia for use in the Ukraine war, which is now in its 11th month.
Iranian officials have denied the accusations, although admitting that a "limited number" of drones were dispatched to Moscow "months before the war" as part of defense cooperation between the two countries.
Some Western media outlets have published photos of the "remains" of Iranian-made drones, Shahed-136 and Mohajer-6, allegedly used in Ukraine by Russian forces.
Bagheri dismissed the reports as “psychological warfare” against Iran while adding that it "shows the influence, importance and high rank" of Iranian UAVs.
Referring to the American and Israeli presence in the region, the top-ranking military general said Iran will respond with "full determination" in the event of an attack, saying the country has both "power and will".
While he didn't mention Russia, there have been reports in the past about Iran's cooperation with countries such as Russia, China, and India in the drone industry.
Iranian drones are believed to be relatively cheaper but vastly efficient, which has prompted many countries to place orders.
In mid-October, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said at least 22 countries have "shown interest in purchasing Iranian UAVs", including Armenia, Tajikistan, Algeria, and Venezuela.
Earlier this month, the US accused Moscow of providing advanced military assistance to Iran, including air defense systems, while warning against deepening defense ties between the two countries.
White House National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby cited US intelligence reports to claim that Russia was offering Iran “an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership”.
He said the two countries were also mulling over establishing a "joint production line for lethal drones" in Russia.
Iranian officials, however, have denied the claims, saying they are "not siding" with any of the warring parties in Ukraine and consider political dialogue as the way-out of the logjam.