A high-profile Iranian drone maker has been hit with sanctions by the United States for allegedly supplying a drone component to Russia.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has placed sanctions on Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), a tech firm based in Iran known for creating drone aircraft technology. According to the Treasury, KH recently shipped a tactical drone component to Russia. The component was intended to be installed on a military platform, which would have been used in “active belligerent action in Syria.”
KH has been on the U.S. Treasury list of sanctions since 2009, meaning that any foreign entity that works with the firm may be subject to similar penalties. The department believes that KH supplied the component to a Russian entity responsible for shipping it to Syria.
Given the penalties in place, this shipment could prove to be a major breach of U.S. sanctions against Iran. According to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, “Iran continues to defy international agreements and support destabilizing activities in Syria and elsewhere.”
The action taken against KH shows the current Administration’s desire to vigorously enforce sanctions. United States citizens and entities are prohibited from conducting business with the “Iran-linked firm” or any foreign companies or persons that are connected to it.
This incident serves as a reminder that the U.S. is serious about using sanctions as a tool for keeping pressure on nations that engage in destabilizing activities and threaten the security of the U.S. and its allies.
The U.S. on Friday hit six executives and board members of an Iranian drone manufacturer with sanctions after the firm allegedly supplied Moscow with drones that Russian forces have been using to attack Ukraine.
Qods Aviation Industries, a previously sanctioned Iranian defense manufacturer, is alleged to be responsible for the design and production of unmanned aerial vehicles used to conduct strikes on civilians during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Treasury Department says the firm changed its name to Light Airplanes Design and Manufacturing Industries in mid-2020 to evade sanctions.
The financial penalties imposed by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control highlight the growing tension between the U.S. and Iran over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal as well as U.S. allegations of Russia and Iran deepening cooperation through shared military assistance as the war rages on.
The geopolitical impact of Iran’s role in the Ukraine war
✍ @Solomon_Chris https://t.co/Gs3aUMn4Cc
— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 29, 2022
“Iran has now become Russia’s top military backer,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “Iran must cease 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 engaged in this activity.”
The latest sanctions follow a round imposed on Iranian-based Shahed Aviation Industries Research Center, which the U.S. says designs and produces drones used by Russian forces in Ukraine, and several firms that are said to facilitate the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting in December, Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani said drones were not transferred to Russia for use in Ukraine, saying “the misinformation campaign and baseless allegations … serve no purpose other than to divert attention from Western states’ transfer of massive amounts of advanced, sophisticated weaponry to Ukraine in order to prolong the conflict.”
“The Russian ability to quickly supply their forces with an adequate number of UAVs of the quality and quantity needed for the #UkraineWar is limited.”
Examining why Russia could turn to Iran for drones ⬇ https://t.co/WeK0WwEijN
— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) August 4, 2022
In November, Iran’s foreign minister acknowledged that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine, which has seen the Iranian-made drones divebombing Kyiv.
The U.S. administration, however, said in December that Iran sold hundreds of attack drones to Russia over the summer and in turn Russia is moving to provide advanced military assistance to Iran, including air defense systems, helicopters and fighter jets.
“The Kremlin’s reliance on suppliers of last resort like Iran shows their desperation in the face of brave Ukrainian resistance and the success of our global coalition in disrupting Russian military supply chains and denying them the inputs they need to replace weapons lost on the battlefield,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
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