US imposes sanctions on China-based network for helping Iran gain access to drones

Washington also hits 'shadow banking' network helping Tehran evade punitive financial measures

The US Department of the Treasury said the network was responsible for the sale and shipment of thousands of drone components to Iran. Reuters
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The US has imposed sanctions on a China-based network of five companies and one person for supporting Iran's efforts to procure drones, the Treasury Department said on Thursday.

The Treasury said the network was responsible for the sale and shipment of thousands of components, including those that can be used in the construction of unmanned aerial vehicles, to the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company.

The company has been involved in the production of the Shahed-136 drone model that Iran has used to attack oil tankers, the Treasury said. The model has also been exported to Russia, which has reportedly used it for its war in Ukraine.

“Iran is directly implicated in the Ukrainian civilian casualties that result from Russia’s use of Iranian UAVs in Ukraine,” said Treasury terrorism and financial intelligence head Brian Nelson.

“The United States will continue to target global Iranian procurement networks that supply Russia with deadly UAVs for use in its illegal war in Ukraine.”

Also on Thursday, the US imposed sanctions on 39 entities it said were enabling Iran's access to the international financial system, describing them as a “shadow banking” network that generates tens of billions of dollars annually.

The sanctions hit entities that helped Iranian petrochemical companies gain access to the global banking system, the department said in a statement.

“Iran cultivates complex sanctions evasion networks where foreign buyers, exchange houses and dozens of front companies co-operatively help sanctioned Iranian companies to continue to trade,” said Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury

“Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ commitment to enforcing our sanctions and our ability to disrupt Iran’s foreign financial networks, which it uses to launder funds.”

Updated: March 09, 2023, 6:50 PM