WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on an Iranian company accused of coordinating military flights to transport Iranian drones to Russia as well as three companies it said were involved in drone production Iranians.
The United States accuses Iran of supplying drones to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, which Tehran has denied.
In a statement, the US Treasury Department said it had designated Tehran-based Safiran Airport Services, accusing it of coordinating Russian military flights between Iran and Russia, including those associated with transporting drones, personnel and related equipment.
The Treasury also named Paravar Pars Company, Design and Manufacturing of Aircraft Engines and Baharestan Kish Company, accusing them of being involved in the research, development, production and supply of Iranian drones.
The Treasury named Paravar Pars Company for its involvement in reverse engineering US- and Israeli-made drones, without specifying which models. Reuters reported that some of Iran’s drones are based on unmanned aircraft from other countries, including an American RQ-170 Sentinel aerial reconnaissance drone captured in 2011.
Also appointed was the managing director of Baharestan Kish Company and a member of its board of directors, Rehmatollah Heidari.
Last month, a US official told Reuters that Iranian-made Russian drones had suffered “numerous failures”.
“We assess that Russia intends to use these Iranian drones, which can conduct air-to-ground attacks, electronic warfare and targeting, on the battlefield in Ukraine,” the official said.
Russia was most likely planning to acquire hundreds of Mohajer-6 and Shahed series unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the US official said.
On Thursday, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement:
“The United States is committed to strictly enforce our sanctions against Russia and Iran and to hold Iran and those who support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine accountable,”
Thousands of people have been killed and Ukrainian towns reduced to rubble since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February in the biggest assault on a European state since World War II.
Thursday’s sanctions come as indirect talks between Iran and the United States have made only tentative progress toward reviving a 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from some penalties.
Washington’s withdrawal from the deal under President Donald Trump in May 2018 and the reimposition of sanctions prompted Tehran to breach the deal’s nuclear restrictions.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Phil Stewart and Chris Gallagher; editing by Grant McCool)