Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi watches combat drones alongside high-ranking officials and commanders during a military parade marking the country's annual army day in Tehran on April 18, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on a procurement network it accused of supporting Iran’s drone and military programmes, targeting companies and suppliers in China, Iran and elsewhere in the fresh action aimed at increasing pressure on Tehran.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said it imposed sanctions on the head of Iran’s Pardazan System Namad Arman (PASNA), which was already under US sanctions, and the entity’s front companies and suppliers in Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China that Washington said have enabled PASNA’s procurement of goods and technology.

It marks the latest move by Washington targeting Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry.

“The network sanctioned today has procured goods and technology for the Iranian government and its defence industry and UAV programme,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement.

“Treasury will continue to enforce its sanctions against Iran’s military procurement efforts that contribute to regional insecurity and global instability.” Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Treasury targeted the managing director of PASNA, accusing him of being responsible for the company’s sanctions evasion efforts. It said he used front companies to seek a variety of electronic components from suppliers based primarily in China.

Three China-based suppliers of PASNA were also targeted in Wednesday’s action alongside a Hong Kong-based company, a Malaysia-based front company and one based in Iran.

The move freezes any US assets of those hit with sanctions and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit by sanctions.

The latest US move against Iran comes as efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have stalled and ties between the Islamic Republic and the West became increasingly strained as Iran’s security forces violently put down the protests following the death of a Kurdish woman in the custody of the morality police last September.