The US Treasury Department on Wednesday targeted an alleged sanctions-evasion network supporting Iran’s defense industry.

The department designated Iranian national Mehdi Khoshghadam, who heads Pardazan System Namad Arman (PASNA), an Iranian company sanctioned in 2018. The Treasury accused Khoshghadam of leading PASNA’s sanctions evasion efforts by using front companies to procure electronic components from foreign suppliers mostly based in China.

Also designated Wednesday were six front companies in Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China that PASNA allegedly used to procure goods and technology for Iran’s defense industry.

Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement that the administration would “continue to enforce its sanctions against Iran’s military procurement efforts that contribute to regional insecurity and global instability.”

Western officials say Tehran has provided Moscow with hundreds of its cheaply made unmanned aircraft for use in Ukraine, which also serves as a testing ground for Iran’s drone warfare in the Middle East.

The United States has responded with a slew of sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran’s drone production and transfer to Russia, a supply the Biden administration says may be contributing to “widespread war crimes” in Ukraine.

Iran has acknowledged providing drones to Moscow but says it did so prior to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2021. Its provision of drones to Russia has exacerbated tensions with the United States, already running high over Iranian nuclear activities and its violent crackdown on anti-government protests.

In March the Treasury Department designated a network it said was operating on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which oversees several firms involved in developing the country’s drone and ballistic missile technology.

Last week, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on firms based in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates that it accused of bolstering Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and helping it evade sanctions.

Source » al-monitor