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US sanctions more than two dozen people, entities with Iranian drone ties

Washington and its allies “will continue to use all means available to combat those who would finance Iran’s destabilizing activities,” stated Brian Nelson, a U.S. Treasury under secretary.

An Israeli anti-missile system fires interceptors at drones, rockets and missiles launched by Iran, as seen over the city of Hebron on April 14, 2024. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
An Israeli anti-missile system fires interceptors at drones, rockets and missiles launched by Iran, as seen over the city of Hebron on April 14, 2024. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned more than 30 people and entities, including ships and aircraft, connected to Iran’s military drone programming on Thursday.

“Iran’s Ministry of Defense continues to destabilize the region and world with its support to Russia’s war in Ukraine, unprecedented attack on Israel, and proliferation of UAVs and other dangerous military hardware to terrorist proxies,” stated Brian Nelson, U.S. under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. (Unmanned aerial vehicles are drones.)

“The United States, in close coordination with our British and Canadian partners, will continue to use all means available to combat those who would finance Iran’s destabilizing activities,” Nelson said.

The main company that Washington sanctioned, Sahara Thunder, is the primary front that oversees the commercial activities of the drone program of the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. The latter supports the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—a U.S.-designated terror group—and the Russian war in Ukraine.

“Sahara Thunder also plays a key role in Iran’s design, development, manufacture, and sale of thousands of UAVs, many of them ultimately transferred to Russia for use in its war of aggression against Ukraine,” per the Treasury Department.

Washington sanctioned the Sahara Thunder leaders Kazem Mirzai Kondori, Hossein Bakshayesh (managing director) and Hojat Abdulahi Fard (a board member). 

It also targeted Sahara Thunder’s “vast shipping network,” including Zen Shipping & Port India Private Limited (India-based), Chem (Cook Islands), Safe Seas Ship Management FZE (United Arab Emirates), Arsang Safe Trading Co. (Iran), Dancy Dynamic (Palau), K M A (Cooks Islands), Conrad (Cooks Islands), Asia Marine Crown Agency (Iran), Sea Art Ship Management Private Limited (India), Trans Gulf Agency (U.A.E.) and Coral Trading (U.A.E. and Iran).

Washington also sanctioned Onden General Trading (U.A.E.); the vessel La Pearl; Saone Shipping Corporation (Panama); the airline Pouya Air (Iran) and its aircraft, EP-PUS.

The sanctions also targeted Bonyan Danesh Shargh Private Company (Iran) and its leaders—Abbas Abdi Asjerd (CEO), officials Seyed Mohsen Vahabzadeh Moghadam and Zahra Abdi Asjerd; and Hamid Eidi Ashjerdi (corporate auditing and inspection). Some of those individuals are also leaders of the newly designated Iranian companies Baran Sazan Caspian Anzali Free Zone Company, Sanaye Motorsazi Alvand Private Company and Pishro Sanat Aseman Sharif Private Company. The latter’s corporate auditor and inspector, Mohammad Ali Moradipour, was also sanctioned.

“The United States will continue to hold Iran accountable for its transfer of UAVs and other dangerous military hardware to Russia and to regional proxies,” stated the U.S. State Department.

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