The United States has announced sanctions on seven individuals and four companies in China, Russia and Türkiye alleged to be connected with Iran’s drone program.
Kyiv and its Western backers accuse the Islamic Republic of supplying Russia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used to bomb military and civilian targets in Ukraine.
Tehran has acknowledged sending drones to Moscow, but it claims that the deliveries took place before Russia's invasion in Ukraine in February 2022, despite widespread evidence to the contrary.
The network sanctioned on September 19 has “facilitated shipments and financial transactions in support of the U.S.-designated Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company’s (HESA’s) UAV and military aircraft production, procurement, and maintenance activities,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
The people and entities targeted include HESA’s alias, Shahin Co., its managing executives, a group of Russian parts manufacturers and two Turkish money exchangers.
“Iran’s continued, deliberate proliferation of its UAVs enables Russia, its proxies in the Middle East, and other destabilizing actors to undermine global stability,” said Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the State Department, said in a separate statement that the United States “will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt these efforts and will work with Allies and partners to hold Iran accountable for its actions.”
The people and companies sanctioned are denied access to any property or financial assets held in the United States; the sanctions also prevent US companies and citizens from doing business with them.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran remain high, despite this week's release of five Americans detained in Iran as part of a prisoner swap that saw the dismissal of US federal charges against five Iranians and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian assets.
In his address to the UN General Assembly in New York on September 19, US President Joe Biden said his administration was “working with our partners to address Iran’s destabilizing activities that threaten regional and global security.”
Tehran and Moscow have deepened their bilateral ties, particularly in the military sphere, since the imposition of Western sanctions on Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The European Union, the United States and other countries have also issued several rounds of sanctions against the Islamic Republic in recent months over its crackdown on dissent and its supply of drones to Russia.