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US announces sanctions targeting Iran’s drone program

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) unveils its new "Gaza" wide-body combat drone, May 21, 2021. (Sepah News/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States has hit Iran with fresh sanctions for supplying lethal drones and related material to insurgent groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Ethiopia.

The Treasury Department on October 29 announced the new sanctions against two senior members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), two other individuals, and two companies that the United States says are affiliated with the IRGC’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) program.

The Treasury Department statement said Iran’s proliferation of UAVs across the region threatens international peace and stability.

“The IRGC has used and proliferated lethal UAVs to Iranian-supported groups, including attacks on U.S forces and on international shipping,” the State Department said in a statement.

The two targeted IRGC commanders, Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani and Brigadier General Abdollah Mehrabi, oversee the IRGC’s drone activities, including support for UAV attacks by proxies on commercial vessels, Saudi oil facilities, and U.S. and allied interests throughout the Middle East, according to the Treasury Department.

The two firms, the Kimia Part Sivan Company and the Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar Company, along with the managing director of the latter, were sanctioned for supplying engines and technical assistance to the drone program, the Treasury Department said. Another individual with links to the IRGC also was added to the sanctions list.

“We are firmly committed to countering all of Iran’s threatening activity and those who support it,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter.

The sanctions block any assets that the individuals and entities may have in the United States, bar Americans from conducting business transactions with them, and subject people and firms that do business with them to potential penalties.

The sanctions were announced as President Joe Biden prepared for meetings with European leaders at which the possible resumption of nuclear talks with Iran is expected to be discussed. Biden is set to meet the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany on October 30 in Rome during a Group of 20 summit.

Iran has yet to commit to a date to return to the talks in Vienna but has signaled it is prepared to do so by late November.

The negotiations were put on hold in June ahead of Iran’s election that brought hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi to power.

In recent months, there have been repeated delays in reviving the talks, which made little progress over six rounds.