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9 Mar, 2023 18:13

US sanctions Chinese firms over ‘Iranian’ drones

Five companies and one individual allegedly supplied UAV parts to Tehran
US sanctions Chinese firms over ‘Iranian’ drones

The US Treasury Department has placed one Chinese national and five companies on the Iran-related sanctions blacklist, claiming on Thursday that they were part of a “procurement network” Tehran supposedly used to obtain parts for drones it allegedly exported to Russia.

According to the US government, the companies “facilitated” the transactions of aerospace components to the Iranian company HESA, which produces Shahed-136. Washington and Kiev have accused Tehran of supplying these UAVs to Moscow, which the Iranian government has denied.

“Iran is directly implicated in the Ukrainian civilian casualties that result from Russia’s use of Iranian UAVs in Ukraine,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. 

Treasury claims that Hangzhou Fuyang Koto Machinery used the Hong Kong-based Raven International Trade Limited as a “front company” to sell aircraft engines for Shaheds to HESA. 

Guilin Alpha Rubber & Plastics Technology allegedly “facilitated the sale and shipment of thousands of aerospace components worth over a million dollars” to Iran. Shenzhen Caspro Technology and S&C Trade PTY were also accused of facilitating the sale and delivery of “thousands of aerospace components worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for fixed-wing, rotorcraft, and UAV applications.” S&C employee Yuan Yunxia was sanctioned as an individual.

The sanctions mean American residents are banned from doing business with the designated companies and all their property within US jurisdiction is frozen until further notice. The sanctioned entities and individuals have no legal recourse against the measure.

Ukraine has accused Iran of supplying Russia with kamikaze drones used to strike strategic targets. Kiev officials have even called for US strikes on Iranian targets, though they denied all responsibility when a military factory in Isfahan was damaged in late January.

Tehran has denied the accusations, insisting that – unlike the West – Iran is not arming either party to the conflict. A sample selection of drones was provided to Moscow months before the current conflict escalated, the Iranian foreign minister said in early November.

The Russian Defense Ministry insists that its Geran-2 drones are produced at home, just like all the other hardware used in the military operation against Kiev.