At 9:24am on Wednesday, another Iranian plane landed in Naypyidaw, believed to be loaded with military equipment for Myanmar’s junta. In mid-January, I reported here in Asia Times that a delegation of Iranians – some with possible links to the country’s military – had arrived in Myanmar earlier that month for either the second or third Iranian visit since the Tatmadaw took power through a coup in February 2021.
A well-placed source told me on Tuesday evening that an Iranian plane was expected to land in Myanmar the following morning, as was the case. The plane was to deliver a cargo of 21 boxes thought to contain military hardware, I was informed, although the source wasn’t sure of what specific materiel is allegedly being provided by Iran to Myanmar’s military junta.
(In January, several sources speculated that it could be guided missiles, which would significantly enhance the embattled junta’s ability to wage war on ethnic militias and the “People’s Defense Force” from the air.)
I was also informed on Tuesday that the Iranian aircraft is expected to leave Naypyidaw back to Iran on either Wednesday or Thursday, loaded with US dollars as payment.
Said a source, citing leaked intelligence, “The plane will carry some drones and chemical weapons used and tested in Syria’s war…. In addition, this Iranian plane will stop over Uzbekistan and will bring in paper and other stuff to print more money in [Myanmar].” This cannot be confimed by Asia Times.
As I reported in January, Iran is accused of providing military equipment and weapons to several repressive regimes, as well as to Tehran-aligned belligerents in the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars.
In 2019, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Iranian cargo airline Qeshm Fars Air for allegedly transporting weapons to Tehran-backed groups in the Syrian civil war. The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control specified two Qeshm Fars Air–owned aircraft of concern, one of which, with the registration “EP-FAA,” appears to have been the plane that flew to Myanmar in January and this week.
Flight-tracker software noted that the flight in January had taken off from Mashhad, Iran’s second-biggest city. However, such information is not available for this week’s flight. According to Flightradar24, a tracker website, it is not known from where in Iran the EP-FAA aircraft took off.
Russia and manufacturers in several other nations, including India, have reportedly sold weapons to the Myanmar military since its coup early last year. The US and European Union have called for an international arms embargo on Myanmar, although this is unlikely.
The UN General Assembly last year only adopted a non-binding resolution calling on all states to “to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.” A binding and international embargo would need to be imposed by the UN Security Council, where Russia and China would likely veto it.
Iran and the United States resumed indirect talks this week over a new nuclear accord, while discussions between Iranian and European officials resumed in Vienna earlier this month. Tehran wants all sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration to be lifted.
David Hutt is a political journalist based between the Czech Republic and Britain. Between 2014 and 2019, he was based in Cambodia, covering Southeast Asian affairs. He is Southeast Asia columnist for The Diplomat and a regular contributor to Asia Times, including the column Free Thoughts. He reports on European political affairs and Europe-Asian relations. Follow him on Twitter @davidhuttjourno