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Rattled by Iran’s drone prowess, new US sanctions target 1 person, 6 entities

The United States Department of the Treasury is seen in Washington, D.C., US, August 30, 2020. (Photo by Reuters).

Rattled by Iran's drone prowess, the United States has imposed fresh sanctions on an Iranian individual as well as several companies over their alleged links to the Islamic Republic’s drone and military programs.

The US Treasury Department in a statement on Wednesday said the sanctions targeted Mehdi Khoshghadam, who heads Pardazan System Namad Arman (PASNA), an Iranian company already under US sanctions, in addition to six entities in Iran and elsewhere.

The Treasury accused Khoshghadam of leading a “sanctions evasion network” by using PASNA’s front companies to procure electronic components from foreign suppliers, mostly based in China.

The statement claimed that the network had facilitated Iran’s procurement of electronic components for its military programs, including those used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Three China-based suppliers of PASNA were targeted in Wednesday's action alongside a Hong Kong-based company, a Malaysia-based front company and one based in Iran.

"The network sanctioned today has procured goods and technology for the Iranian government and its defense industry and UAV program," Brian Nelson, the Treasury's undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, claimed in the statement.

The sanctions freeze any US assets of those targeted and generally bar Americans from dealing with them.

Last month, the Treasury Department sanctioned four entities and three individuals over their alleged involvement in a procurement network that purportedly supported Iran’s drone program.

Iran’s drone industry has made tremendous headway over the past couple of years, with its latest achievements put on display during Tuesday’s parade marking National Army Day.

The new wave of sanctions comes amid US accusations that the Islamic Republic provided Russia with drones to be used against Ukraine.

The Islamic Republic has, however, emphatically rejected Washington's allegations, saying it has not sold any weapons and drones to be used in the war against Ukraine.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in November last year said Iran provided Russia with a limited number of drones, but the delivery happened months before the war broke out in Ukraine.

Experts believe the growing military prowess of Iran, especially in the drone industry, has rattled the US and its Western allies. 

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, said in October last year that at least 22 foreign states have queued up to purchase Iranian drones.

In February, Iran’s defense minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Gharaei Ashtiani said a significant surge has been recorded in the production and export of defense equipment this year, compared to the previous year.

Today, as US officials also acknowledge, Iran is a global leader not only in manufacturing drones but other military equipment as well, which was on display during Tuesday's parade in Tehran. 


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