US imposes new Iran drone sanctions as UN resolution set to expire

Washington says it remains steadfast in efforts to curb Tehran's ballistic missiles and UAVs programmes

Iranian drones displayed during a military parade in Tehran. EPA
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The US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on more people and companies with ties to Iran's ballistic missile and drone programmes.

The new restrictions come as a 2015 UN resolution set by the Security Council to curb Iran's ballistic missiles programme was set to expire.

Missile-related restrictions placed on Iran by the EU were also set to expire on Wednesday.

The resolution “was based on the assumption that Iran would take the necessary steps towards restoring confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme”, according to a joint statement from the US, UK and dozens of other countries.

“This has not happened.”

The resolution was part of the Iran nuclear deal, from which former US president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 11 people, nine companies and one ship based in Iran, Hong Kong, China and Venezuela.

They were accused of enabling Iran's missile and drone programme by supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics.

The US said it remains committed to constraining Iran's development and procurement of missiles, UAVs and other weapons.

“The United States will continue to take action to disrupt Iran’s proliferation of [unmanned aerial vehicles] UAVs and other weapons to oppressive regimes and destabilising actors, and we encourage the international community to do the same,” said Treasury undersecretary Brian Nelson.

Mr Nelson said Tehran's drones and other weapons “prolongs numerous conflicts in regions and around the world”.

The US has long maintained that Iran is supplying drones for Russia to use in its war against Ukraine.

Iran has also been accused of transferring drones to Houthi fighters to be used against the Yemeni government, which the rebel group denies.

“We see the horrific impact of Iran’s provision of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to designated terrorist organisations and militant proxies that directly threaten the security of Israel and our Gulf partners,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“We see the destructive result of Iran’s transfer of lethal UAVs to Russia to target critical civilian infrastructure and kill civilians in Ukraine.”

Washington also released a new advisory on Iran's ballistic missile programme to alert people and business of Tehran's activities.

The advisory warns of “deceptive techniques” used by Iran's missile procurement networks including efforts to obscure recipients' identities.

The US said the purpose of the advisory is to help businesses ensure full compliance with US law.

Wednesday's actions freeze all assets US-based assets and prohibits the individuals from conducting business in the US or with any US-based business.

Any person or business that conducts business with a designated entity could also be punished.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 8:56 PM