US Treasury sanctions Iranian company for providing drones to Russia

One of the sanctioned companies reverse engineered US and Israeli drones to reproduce Iranian versions.

 Shahed 171 Simorgh flying wing UAV (photo credit: M. Sadegh Nikgostar/Fars News Agency)
Shahed 171 Simorgh flying wing UAV
(photo credit: M. Sadegh Nikgostar/Fars News Agency)

The US Treasury Department sanctioned an Iranian company shipping drones to Russia for use in the invasion of Ukraine, as well as three other Iranian companies for their involvement in producing drones, the Treasury announced on Thursday.

The Tehran-based Safiran Airport Services was sanctioned for coordinating Russian military flights between Iran and Russia, including flights transporting Iranian UAVs, personnel and related equipment from Iran to Russia. After assembly and testing, the Russian Aerospace Forces intend to deploy the UAVs in the war in Ukraine, according to the Treasury's announcement.

Paravar Pars Company reverse engineered US, Israeli drones

The Paravar Pars Company, which is closely associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-controlled Imam Hossein University, has produced drones for the IRGC's Aerospace Forces and tested drones for the IRGC's Navy.

The company was specifically involved in the research, development, and production of the Iranian Shahed-171 UAV and received US and Israeli-made drones from the IRGC which they then reverse-engineered to reproduce Iranian-made versions.

 Drone competition in Iran, August 2022 (credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY) Drone competition in Iran, August 2022 (credit: TASNIM NEWS AGENCY)

Company behind production of Shahed-171 UAV sanctioned

The Design and Manufacturing of Aircraft Engines (DAMA) company was involved in the research, development, and production of the IRGC's Iranian Shahed-171 UAV program, according to the Treasury.

The company serves as a front for covert procurement activities of  Iran’s Aircraft Manufacturing Industries (HESA) which is affiliated with Iran's Defense Ministry and Armed Forces Logistics. DAMA has been involved in acquiring equipment to modify UAV components that would be produced locally by the IRGC and used in IRGC UAVs. The company has also been involved in the manufacture and procurement of equipment for planned use in jet engines for the IRGC.

The Baharestan Kish Company has been in charge of a number of defense-related projects, including the manufacture of UAVs. As of last year, the company was working on Shahed UAV components.

The managing director of the company, Rehmatollah Heidari, was also sanctioned on Thursday.

All property and interests of the sanctioned individuals and entities in the US or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

“Russia is making increasingly desperate choices to continue its unprovoked war against Ukraine, particularly in the face of our unprecedented sanctions and export controls,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson. 

"We will also not hesitate to target producers and procurers who contribute to Iran and its IRGC’s UAV program."

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson

“The United States is committed to strictly enforcing our sanctions against both Russia and Iran and holding accountable Iran and those supporting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We will also not hesitate to target producers and procurers who contribute to Iran and its IRGC’s UAV program, further demonstrating our resolve to continue going after terrorist proxies that destabilize the Middle East. Non-Iranian, non-Russian entities should also exercise great caution to avoid supporting either the development of Iranian UAVs or their transfer, or sale of any military equipment to Russia for use against Ukraine.”

Russia training to use Iranian drones in Russia

In August, Iran, Russia, Belarus and Armenia launched a military drone competition in Kashan in central Iran, just days after the US confirmed that Russian officials were being trained to use Iranian drones.

Over 70 soldiers from the four countries are participating in the tournament, which includes five stages of physical fitness and shooting and four drone divisions, including aerial reconnaissance for three days, air support and correction of artillery fire, reconnaissance at night and constant reconnaissance, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Ali Bilali told Iranian media.

In August, US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters that the US was able to confirm that Russian officials conducted training in Iran in recent weeks as part of the planned transfer of drones.

"We will vigorously enforce all US sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms trades. The kind of transactions you’re mentioning are potentially sanctionable under numerous authorities, including but not limited to Russia-specific authorities and our worldwide nonproliferation sanctions," said Patel.

"We remain incredibly concerned about Iran’s use and proliferation of UAVs. They have been used to attack US forces, our partners in the region, and international shipping entities. We will continue to use all available tools, including but not limited to sanctions, to prevent, deter, and dismantle the procurement network that supply UAV-related material and technology to Iran."

In July, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that Iran is preparing to provide Russia with several hundred drones, including some that are capable of being armed with weapons.