The Global Landscape of AI Development: China, Russia, and Iran’s Strategies and Impacts

Global AI Development
November 19, 2023


In the swiftly evolving technological landscape, the strategic deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a pivotal element in global power dynamics. Leading adversaries of the United States—China, Russia, and Iran—are strategically utilizing AI to diminish U.S. influence in targeted regions by employing tactics such as disinformation campaigns and the advancement of unmanned military capabilities. 

  • On October 26, the U.S. restricted the export of specific high-end AI chips, chip-making equipment, and design software to China, Iran, and Russia. 
  • A U.S. executive order signed early this year, supported by countries such as the Netherlands and Japan, imposes limits on U.S. investments in some Chinese semiconductor, quantum computing, and AI firms. 


Chinese President Xi Jinping has marshaled private companies and trillions of dollars in public money to drive research and development in AI to overtake the West in AI R&D by 2025. Generative AI providers in China must uphold the integrity of state power, refrain from inciting secession, safeguard national unity, preserve economic and social order, and ensure the development of products aligning with the country’s socialist values.

  • China aims to augment its computational capacity by 50% before 2025, a crucial step to bolster AI advancements that depend on sophisticated semiconductors for processing extensive volumes of data.
  • State-owned Chinese telecommunications companies, such as Huawei, have been awarded contracts worth an estimated $1.4 trillion to develop AI software to underpin automated factories and mass surveillance.
  • China now has at least 130 large language models (LLMs), accounting for 40 percent of the global total and just behind America’s 50 percent share.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s 2023 annual report to Congress on the state of China’s military highlights the rising role of AI in Beijing’s military strategy and possible threats to the U.S. 

  • The report warns China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) introduced Multi-Domain Precision Warfare, which aims to use AI and big data advances to quickly identify and exploit vulnerabilities in the U.S. operational system. On a concerning note, China “largely denied, canceled and ignored bilateral defense engagements” with the U.S. 
  • China has tested AI to operate autonomous vehicles of war, such as subs, fighter jets, and swarms of aerial drones. Kathleen Hicks, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, stated America will field “multiple thousands” of autonomous, unmanned systems to offset China’s advantage in numbers of weapons and people.


In September President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to fund research into AI competition, specifically by providing an annual allocation from the federal budget, optimizing machine learning algorithms, developing LLMs similar to ChatGPT, and supporting the creation of supercomputers. 

  • In September, Russia’s Moscow State University installed a supercomputer dedicated to AI called MSU-270. Details are sparse, but it is funded by the Russian government and will be used to research AI and big data, develop new AI tools, solve information security problems, and create new AI software.
  • Russia is manufacturing an undersea Poseidon nuclear torpedo which will reportedly use AI to travel across the ocean autonomously, evading existing missile defenses, and deliver a nuclear weapon days after launch.

Russia’s ongoing campaign to gain global influence at the U.S.’s expense includes establishing media connections across Latin American countries and exploiting the region’s media openness for information manipulation. 

  • Aleksandr Dugin, a former Soviet dissident who has become a prominent advocate of Russia’s imperial ambitions, is actively promoting Russian disinformation, holding seminars and training courses, and supporting paramilitary activities in Brazil. 
  • Social Design Agency, Structura National Technologies, and the Institute for Internet Development, are employing AI chatbots to spread Russian propaganda. The companies produced fake articles purporting to be from actual news organizations, including The Washington Post, to spread disinformation in the Ukraine war.


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his desire for Iran to be a global leader in AI, as long as it aligns with the country’s interpretation of Islam.

  • In 2022, Iran’s Research Institute of Information and Communication Technology claimed Iran would become a leader in the AI market by 2032. 

AI has played a pivotal role in allowing the Iranian government to modernize its surveillance state, specifically following nationwide unrest due to the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating the regime’s Islamic dress code. 

  • Frederike Kaltheuner, director of Human Rights Watch’s technology division, states Iran is using AI for facial recognition to identify women in breach of the mandatory hijab dress code. 
  • Tehran is also using AI to better police digital platforms and catch citizens attempting to circumvent firewalls that prevent access to blocked foreign platforms.
  • Iranian clerics have proposed using AI to issue fatwas and speed up the process of Islamic law rulings. 

Iran’s military reportedly is also incorporating AI into its capabilities. 

  • According to Iran’s Tansim News Agency, Iran developed the “Abu Mahdi missile in July 2023. With a range of more than 1,000 kilometers, it is allegedly equipped with an AI-guided command-and-control system that allows the missile to fly at low altitudes and penetrate enemy air defenses. 
  • In early 2023, Iran showcased miniature tank unmanned vehicles (also known as UGVs or ground robots) which allegedly have limited AI capabilities. The remote-controlled four and six-wheeled machines can transport troops, cargo, and conduct day-and-night surveillance. 

What It Means To You & How Concentric Can Help 

China, Russia, and Iran have a demonstrated history of targeting U.S. companies from a variety of industries, such as pharmaceuticals, technology, and defense, to further their geopolitical interests. Their methods, such as disinformation, espionage, and hacking, will evolve in scale and scope due to AI. Here are ways Concentric can help corporations address potential threats from foreign adversaries: 

  • Identify: Concentric’s Risk Assessments can help identify existing risks, such as exposed personal information and disinformation, before they become a potential threat to a company’s executives, employees, and intellectual property. Concentric can also assist in spotting real-time risks and nascent threats through regular monitoring of online threats and periodic reporting.
  • Mitigate: Concentric can provide guidance on insider threats and cybersecurity to ensure companies are incorporating best practices into the security of their valued assets. Concentric also specializes in Technical Surveillance Counter Measures, often referred to as sweeping for electronic listening devices, to keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands. 
  • Respond: Concentric’s executive protection team can provide your company, its leadership, and vulnerable employees with on-the-ground expertise in the event of a crisis or other safety concern. Concentric is also able to respond in the cybersphere, removing exposed personally identifiable information from online and helping to restore compromised accounts.

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