The US Treasury has slapped sanctions on two Iranian generals and firms over their involvement in the Islamic Republic’s drone program which, according to Washington, led to attacks on ships, including the Mercer Street tanker.
On Friday, the US added individuals and companies to its sanctions list “provided critical support to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programs of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),”In a statement, the Treasury Department asserted that they were aware of it.
The department said then that the IRGC “expeditionary unit” – the Quds force – supplied “lethal UAVs”Many Middle East organizations were allegedly involved, such as Hezbollah (Lebanon), Hamas militants at Gaza, Houthis and Ethiopia.
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Also, the Iranian drones were “used in attacks on international shipping and on US forces,”According to the Treasury, this was the reason for its decision. One of those put on the sanctions list was the IRGC Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani, who oversees the corps’ UAV command and is responsible for planning, equipment and training for its drone operations.
“Iran’s proliferation of UAVs across the region threatens international peace and stability. Iran and its proxy militants have used UAVs to attack US forces, our partners, and international shipping,”Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury
The Treasury directly accused the IRGC’s UAV command of orchestrating the attack on the commercial shipping vessel Mercer Street off the coast of Oman in July 2021, in which two crew members were killed. An Israeli company manages the Liberian flagged oil tanker Mercer Street. The UK demanded a UN Security Council closed-door meeting. It also quickly blamed Tehran for the incident, claiming that Tehran was responsible. “highly likely”Iran was the one responsible.
Washington was quick and firm to support London. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington was “confident that Iran conducted this attack.”Tehran denied the allegations vehemently, but Washington and London failed to offer any evidence that would support them. RT was told by a UN source that some UNSC members refused to back the allegations against Iran without an international independent investigation. But, such an investigation wasn’t launched.
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Another person on Friday’s sanctions list is the IRGC Brigadier General Abdollah Mehrabi, head of the corps’ Aerospace Force Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization. He’s responsible for procuring the drone engines needed for the IRGC navy. “entities supporting weapons development for the Iranian military,”According to the Treasury
The Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar Company which sold those engines to the IRGC was also added to the US sanctions list, as was Kimia Part Sivan Company (KIPAS), for helping improve Iran’s drone program by providing technical assistance and conducting drone flight tests.
A second person was also identified by the Treasury as Mohammad Ebrahim Zargar Tehrani. He is accused of helping KIPAS purchase UAV parts from Iranian companies.
While Iranian officials are yet to react to US sanctions, some Iranian media have questioned why the US imposed them so quickly after Tehran had announced that it would resume negotiations for the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran’s deputy foreign Minister and nation’s chief negotiator at Vienna declared Wednesday that Tehran is ready to negotiate the renewal of the 2015 nuclear accord. “by the end of November.”
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Relations between Iran and the West have been fraught with tensions over sanctions for a long time. Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from 2015’s nuclear agreement led to a stringent US sanctions against Tehran. Iranian leaders accuse the Western signatories in the 2015 nuclear deal of failing fulfill their promises. The US insists that the sanctions placed against Iran should be lifted prior to it adhering to the terms of the contract.
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