US slaps new tech sanctions on Iran in wake of Israel attack

The US Department of State Thursday announced new sanctions targeting Iran in response to its April 13th drone and missile attack on Israel. The move was announced as a coordinated effort with the UK, which established its own round of new restrictions on Tehran.

The broad sanctions – which are primarily focused on curbing Iran’s ability to manufacture and proliferate its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) arsenal used in the Israeli attack, as well as by Russia in its war on Ukraine – were announced Thursday at the G7 summit being held in Italy.

“We will continue to work with our allies and partners to employ the full range of the tools at our disposal to address the revenue streams and disrupt the networks that support Iran’s reckless proliferation of weapons that destabilize the Middle East and beyond,” the State Department said.

The US Department of Treasury Department said it is imposing sanctions on 16 individuals and two entities that are actively enabling Iran’s UAV program through production and testing, including those actors that work on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Sanctions are also being imposed on Iranian manufacturers of UAVs and UAV engines, including the Kimia Part Sivan Company, a UAV production company known to work directly with the IRGC. Several of the engine makers are responsible for producing the engine types that power Iran’s notorious Shahed-series drones, which were used in the April 13th Israel attack.

Iran Israel attack
The remains of a rocket booster that, according to Israeli authorities critically injured a 7-year-old girl, after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, near Arad, Israel, April 14th, 2024. Image by Christophe van der Perre | Reuters

Furthermore, at least five companies that provide component materials to one of Iran’s largest steel producers – already an US designated entity – are also being named in the edict.

The Department of Commerce jointly has imposed new controls to restrict Iran’s access to low-level technologies, such as basic commercial-grade microelectronics, according to the announcement.

“These controls also apply to items manufactured outside the US that are produced using US technology,” it said.

Iran technology, sanctions
Iranian military kamikaze drone attacks city, combat drone in the sky, war in Ukraine, attack on city infrastructure. Image by Anelo | Shutterstock

Iranian UAVs and Russia

The Commerce restrictions are in addition to comprehensive export restrictions put in place last June after the US released declassified satellite images showing Iran building a drone factory near Moscow.

The 2023 report showed, at the time, there was already proof of Iranian UAVs being discovered on the ground in Ukraine, assumed to have been launched by Russia (including the Shahed-series UAV variant).

The intelligence report also revealed that Iran was illegally trying to buy key components to produce the military-grade UAVs, which Iran had been shipping to Russia, specifically for use in the war on Ukraine.

Iran was found exporting the UAVs and other components to Russian military bases by way of the Caspian Sea, a known trade route directly linking the two countries.

Iran UAV factory Russia
US Satellite image showing two industrial buildings located in Russia's Alabuga special economic zone, identified as a drone factory being built with Iran. June 9th, 2023. Image by Maxar Technologies | The White House.

The Iranian UAVs recovered in Ukraine last year were found to be made with many components produced by third-country suppliers, including electronics components such as controllers, receivers, and circuits, as well as other commodities, such as guidance and navigation equipment.

“There's a network of procurement agents, front companies, suppliers, and intermediaries across the world using a variety of methods to evade export controls and sanctions,” the DoJ said at the time.

The UK also imposed its own round of sanctions against Iran Thursday in coordination with Washington, freezing assets and banning travel for several high-ranking Iranian defense officials, including the Armed Forces General Staff and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy.

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