The engine of an Iranian drone shot down over Ukraine on October 6, 2022

US Treasury Issues New Sanctions Against Iran’s Drone Program

Tuesday, 03/21/2023

The United states announced fresh sanctions Tuesday against four entities and three individuals accused of involvement in procuring parts for Iran’s drone program.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in coordination with the Federal Bureau of investigations (FBI) targeted a network in Iran and Turkey for involvement in the procurement of equipment, including European-origin engines for drones on behalf of Iran’s defense ministry and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), which is already designated by the US.

Iran has been supplying hundreds of its Shahed kamikaze drones (UAVs) to Russia that have been used since October to target Ukraine’s military and civilian infrastructure. The United States and its European allies have warned Tehran to cease its military support to Russia, as they provide air defense and other weapons to Ukraine to defend itself against massive Russian bombardments.

Although the Treasury’s announcement did not mention Russia, but Western officials have repeatedly noted Iran’s drone supplies and have warned that Tehran is also contemplating to provide missiles to Moscow.

“Iran’s well-documented proliferation of UAVs and conventional weapons to its proxies continues to undermine both regional security and global stability,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said. “The United States will continue to expose foreign procurement networks in any jurisdiction that supports Iran’s military industrial complex.”

The US has intensified targeted sanctions against companies and individuals since September, when 18 months of nuclear negotiations with Iran ended in impasse. At the same time, nationwide antigovernment protests erupted in Iran followed by deadly crackdowns that killed around 500 civilians. Third, came the use of the kamikaze drones by Russia, which ended any immediate hope of more talks over the nuclear issue.

The Treasury noted that just over a week earlier it had designated a China-based network in connection with Iran’s UAV procurement efforts.

Parts of Iranian drones shot down in Ukraine show that they included hundreds of American and other Western-made parts.

In January, Canada’s Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) submitted a report to the government on its engines ending up in Iranian-made drones used by Russia. The drones used the company’ Rotax-912 engines.

Bombardier ended supplies of the engines to Iran in 2019, although the Mahtabal company in Tehran still markets itself as official representative for Rotax engines. The date – 2019 – suggests this was a response to the United States 2018 introduction of ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions that threatened punitive action against third parties dealing with Iran.

There were reports that some engines might have been provided by a Bombardier subsidiary in Austria.

Tuesday’s Treasury action designated Defense Technology and Science Research Center in Iran, a subsidiary of MODAFL, and its commercial manager and procurement agent Amanallah Paidar. It also designated a Turkish individual and an entity for assisting Paidar and MODAFL.

Another individual in Iran named Asghar Mahmoudi was also sanctioned for assisting Paidar for facilitating supply of items, including marine electronics.

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