US targets Iran drone program with sanctions
Washington: The US Treasury sanctioned Iran’s drone program on Friday, stepping up pressure on Tehran before negotiations over the country’s nuclear program reopened.
The Treasury said deadly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were used to attack US forces and international shipping in the Gulf region.
The drones have also been supplied to Hezbollah, Hamas and Yemeni militants of Al Houthi, and have also been sighted in Ethiopia, “where the escalating crisis threatens to destabilize the region as a whole,” Treasury said. .
The sanctions targeted Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani, who heads the Revolutionary Guards UAV command.
The Treasury said Aghajani was behind a 2019 drone attack on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia as well as the July 29, 2021 attack on a commercial vessel off the coast of Oman that killed two crew members.
Two companies, Kimia Part Sivan and Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar, have also been blacklisted for sanctions, which provide components and help develop armed drones of the Revolutionary Guards.
“Iran’s proliferation of drones in the region threatens international peace and stability,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
“The Treasury will continue to hold Iran accountable for its irresponsible and violent acts,” he said.
The sanctions came nine days after an attack on a US military base in Al Tanf, Syria, involving drones.
The Pentagon has not identified the source of the incident, which left no injuries, but generally says Iran has provided drones for such attacks in the region.
“We have seen these kinds of attacks in the past of – of Shiites [Shiite] militias, which we know are backed and backed by Iran, ”Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday.
The sanctions were also announced just two days after Iran announced it would resume talks with world powers in November on reviving a nuclear deal.
The engagement came after a five-month hiatus that saw growing warnings that international patience was running out with Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the sanctions showed the “contradictory behavior” of President Joe Biden’s administration.
“An administration that wants to return to nuclear negotiations follows the same methods of [former president Donald] Asset. By imposing sanctions, it sends a message that inspires no confidence, ”he said.