U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Iranian Drone Manufacturer Amid Scrutiny Over Procurement Networks

(New York, N.Y.) — On Friday, the Biden administration designated eight individuals serving on the board of directors for Iranian drone manufacturer Paravar Pars, which is itself under U.S. and EU sanctions for manufacturing Shahed-171 UAVs for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s Aerospace Force and Navy. The Shahed-171 is itself a crude reverse-engineered version of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, one of which was captured by Tehran in 2011. The U.S. Treasury Department noted in its announcement that Iranian UAVs are being transferred to and used by Russia to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure.  

Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly one year ago, Iran has been Russia’s top military supplier and its military-to-military relations are deepening. Iran has sold or transferred hundreds of UAVs to Russia over the last several months in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 and is increasing its production capacity. In May 2022, Iran inaugurated its first drone factory abroad in Tajikistan to produce the Ababil UAV, and according to press reports this week, “Moscow and Tehran are moving ahead with plans to build a new factory in Russia that could make at least 6,000 Iranian-designed drones.”  

To read United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)’s resource The Iranian Drone Threat, please click here.

Resolution 2231 prohibits the Islamic Republic from exporting ballistic missiles and related technologies, including UAVs, unless approved by the Security Council. This restriction, however, will sunset according to its arbitrary schedule in October 2023.

To read UANI’s resource JCPOA Sunset Alert: Missile Restrictions, please click here. 

These most recent U.S. designations come amid increasing concern on Capitol Hill about the global procurement network that the Iranian regime has built despite U.S. sanctions. On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of 60 lawmakers urged the Biden administration to “develop a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to interrupt Iran’s supply chains, shut down shell companies used by adversaries to evade sanctions, and pressure allies to crack down on unscrupulous distributors in Europe and Asia.”  

UANI research regularly produces evidence of commercial ties either directly with Iranian entities tied to the Iranian regime or through third parties credibly suspected of transferring merchandise or technologies to Iranian purchasers. In November 2022, UANI's action prompted Taiwan-based technology company ATEN International to investigate the misuse of its products by the Iranian regime and pause exports to Iran. More recently, UANI has identified and contacted companies suspected of supplying firms such as Beijing MicroPilot and CUAV Tech Inc. Ltd., both of which are Chinese companies known to supply Iran with components for its military drones program.