U.S. slaps Iran with another round of sanctions over drones used in Russia's war on Ukraine

Key Points
  • The Biden administration announced a slew of fresh sanctions targeting Iran's aviation and defense sector for supplying weapons to Russia.
  • According to the Treasury, Iran has transferred drones to Russia for use on the battlefield across Ukraine.
  • Iran previously denied it supplied Russia with drones for its war in Ukraine.
A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on Oct. 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday announced a slew of fresh sanctions and additional measures targeting Iran's aviation and defense sector, as Washington ups the ante in its campaign against Tehran for supplying Moscow with weapons for its war on Ukraine.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on six executives and board members from Iran's Qods Aviation Industries, the country's top defense manufacturer, for producing unmanned aerial vehicles. Tehran has transferred UAVs to Russia for use on the battlefield across Ukraine, according to the Treasury.

The administration also designated Nader Khoon Siavash, director of Iran's Aerospace Industrial Organization, for his work in overseeing the country's ballistic missile program. In addition, the Treasury also imposed sanctions on Qods Aviation Industries Chairman Seyed Hojatollah Ghoreishi, managing director Ghassem Damavandian, board members Hamidreza Sharifi-Tehrani, Reza Khaki, Majid Reza Niyazi-Angili and Vali Arlanizadeh.

"The Kremlin's reliance on suppliers of last resort like Iran shows their desperation in the face of brave Ukrainian resistance and the success of our global coalition in disrupting Russian military supply chains and denying them the inputs they need to replace weapons lost on the battlefield," wrote Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen in a release.

"The United States will act swiftly against individuals and entities supporting Iran's UAV and ballistic missile programs and will stand resolutely in support of the people of Ukraine," she added.

People walk past cars damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 21, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

In recent months, Moscow has carried out devastating missile and drone strikes against what Ukraine said were civilian targets as well as critical infrastructure such as energy facilities. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it uses Iranian-made drones in Ukraine and that it targets residential and other high civilian areas.

In a separate statement, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "Iran has now become Russia's top military backer."

"Iran must cease its support for Russia's unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt and delay these transfers and impose costs on actors engaged in this activity," the nation's top diplomat added.

Following the series of punishing drone strikes, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that the 30-member alliance would send drone-jamming equipment to Ukraine.

Kyiv has meanwhile invited United Nations experts to inspect what it says are downed Iranian drones in Ukraine.

Some U.N. Security Council members have argued that by providing Russia with drones, Iran has violated a 2015 resolution.

The Security Council resolution, known as 2231, prohibits the transfer "of all items, materials, equipments and goods and technology" from Iran to another nation unless it is approved in advance by the council on a case-by-case basis.

Tehran has rejected this claim.

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