US targets supply of Iranian drones to Russia in new sanctions

The targeted Qods Aviation Industries, which itself has been under US sanctions since 2013, has been a key Iranian defense manufacturer responsible for the design and production of drones.

A general view of Tehran city following the increase in air pollution in Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2021. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
A general view of Tehran city following the increase in air pollution in Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2021.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

The United States on Friday issued new sanctions targeting suppliers of Iranian drones that Washington said have been used to target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine during the conflict with Russia.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it imposed sanctions on six executives and board members of Qods Aviation Industries (QAI), also known as Light Airplanes Design and Manufacturing Industries. Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), and its director, the primary organization responsible for overseeing Iran’s ballistic missiles, were also sanctioned.

The Treasury described Qods Aviation Industries, which itself has been under US sanctions since 2013, as a key Iranian defense manufacturer responsible for the design and production of drones.

“We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to deny Putin the weapons that he is using to wage his barbaric and unprovoked war on Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in the statement. This statement also identified Iran officially as Russia’s top military backer. 

 IRANIAN PRESIDENT Ebrahim Raisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Tehran last month. Raisi plans to visit New York next month to address the UN General Assembly, despite US sanctions.  (credit: President Website/WANA/Reuters) IRANIAN PRESIDENT Ebrahim Raisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Tehran last month. Raisi plans to visit New York next month to address the UN General Assembly, despite US sanctions. (credit: President Website/WANA/Reuters)

Frozen assets

Friday's action freezes any US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.

The United States has previously imposed sanctions on companies and people it accused of producing or transferring Iranian drones that Russia has used to attack civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia but said they were sent before Russia's February invasion. Moscow has denied its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine.