US targets Iranian drone industry in latest round of sanctions

Sanctions target companies and individuals accused of buying drone parts on behalf of the Iranian government.

The United States has announced its latest round of sanctions against Iran’s drone and missile production, this time targeting companies and individuals allegedly procuring equipment for Tehran’s drone program.

In a statement on Tuesday, the US Treasury Department said the intended “procurement network” operates on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), which oversees companies involved in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). and ballistic missiles. .

The latest sanctions came as US officials continued to accuse Iran of supplying drones to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022. The European Union has also imposed sanctions on Iran’s drone industry.

“Iran’s well-documented proliferation of UAVs and conventional weapons to its proxies continues to undermine both regional security and global stability,” Brian Nelson, the U.S. Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

“The United States will continue to expose foreign procurement networks in every jurisdiction that supports Iran’s military industrial complex.”

Those named in Tuesday’s sanctions include the Iran-based Defense Technology and Science Research Center, procurement firm Farazan Industrial Engineering Inc and two other companies, along with procurement agents from the companies.

Among the equipment acquired by the network were “engines of European origin” for unmanned aerial vehicles, the statement said.

As a result of the sanctions, the targeted entities are denied access to any U.S. property or financial assets held in the country. US companies will also be prevented from doing business with the identified individuals.

The sanctions are just Washington’s latest move against Iran’s drone production.

Most recently, in early March, the US Treasury Department approved a network of Chinese companies to purchase equipment to support Iran’s drone program.

In January, Washington also sanctioned seven people in leadership positions within Iranian companies that produce drones.

Iran must end its support for Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt and delay these transfers and impose costs on actors involved in this activity. said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. in the statement at the time.

The US has further accused Tehran of violating international law by failing to obtain United Nations Security Council approval for the sale of drones.

In February, US defense officials released an analysis that attempted to prove that Iranian drones were being used by Russia in Ukraine.

For its part, Iran has maintained a defiant stance on the issue, saying international criticism of its drone program is rooted in concerns that it would become a competitor in global arms sales.

Nevertheless, Tehran said it has not supplied any drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, aside from “a “limited number” of aerial explosives given to Moscow prior to the invasion.