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The US administration has announced additional financial sanctions against the global supply chain for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) manufactured in Iran, also affecting entities in China, Russia and Turkey. This decision is aimed at hindering the production of UAVs by the Iranian company HESA, which are used in various conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
Background to the sanctions
On September 19, the US government unveiled new financial sanctions against seven individuals and four entities associated with Iran’s global UAV supply chain. The sanctions are intended to make it more difficult for the Iranian aircraft manufacturing company, HESA (Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company), to build UAVs such as the Shahed 136s. These have been used against targets in the Middle East and have also been transferred to Russia for use against Ukraine.
Specific targets of the sanctions
The new sanctions affect not only Iran, but also individuals and entities based in China, Russia and Turkey. Among them, three HESA employees – Mehdi Gogerdchian, Hamidreza Noori and Husayn A’ini – have been specifically targeted. In China, Shenzen Jiasibo Technology Co. and its managing director, Su Chunpeng, were penalized for supplying radar altimeters, GPS and VHF antennas and sensors to HESA’s UAV program. In Russia, three companies were penalized for collaborating with HESA on the construction or maintenance of An-140 aircraft. In Turkey, two money changers were targeted for facilitating financial transactions between HESA and Chinese aircraft engine suppliers.
Geopolitical and security implications
Sanctions are not simply a matter of finance or trade, they have geopolitical and security implications. The underlying reason for the sanctions is to curb the proliferation of Iranian UAVs, which, according to Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson, enable “Russia, its proxies in the Middle East, and other destabilizing actors to undermine global stability”.
Consequences for regional players
Importantly, these sanctions are likely to have wider consequences for international relations and power dynamics in the region. Russia, already in the sights of the United States for various reasons, could see its ability to conduct operations in Ukraine weakened. Similarly, Sino-American relations, already strained, could suffer another blow as a result of sanctions against Chinese companies.
The global economy at stake
Sanctions against individuals and companies in different countries also show just how interconnected the global economy is. Companies and financial institutions doing business with these sanctioned entities could themselves be exposed to sanctions, with repercussions for global trade and financial stability.
The weight of technology
This situation highlights the growing power of military technology, such as UAVs, in modern conflicts. With the proliferation of these technologies, conflicts are likely to become more complex, posing new challenges for international law and peace efforts.
The new US sanctions against Iran’s global UAV supply chain have implications far beyond Iran and its aviation industry. They have an impact on geopolitical relations, regional stability and even the global economy. It remains to be seen how these sanctions will influence the behavior of the various players, but what is clear is that the question of UAVs and their role in modern conflicts is a global issue that requires international attention.
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