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US Treasury Sanctions Iran-Affiliated Company Supplying Drones to Russia

Treasury Sanctions MODAFL Front Company Supplying Drones to Russia

Sahara Thunder, a company identified as a front for Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, faces sanctions in the United States for facilitating the design, development, manufacture and sale of drones in support of Russia’s war in Europe.

According to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Russian government made a negotiation with Sahara Thunder in 2022 to supply thousands of unmanned aerial vehicles annually to support the ongoing war.

Moscow has been using drones to attack critical infrastructure and civilians in Kyiv. A report from The Associated Press indicated that the UAVs also hinder Ukrainian military operations, citing the need for Kyiv to remove U.S.-provided Abrams M1A1 battle tanks from the front lines because Russian drones can quickly detect and attack the vehicles.

OFAC’s recent action also involved the designation of Sahara Thunder’s executives and global shipping network that transports Iranian commodities to China, Russia and Venezuela, among other countries, on behalf of the Iranian ministry. The shipping network includes Cook Islands- and Palau-flagged vessels operated by Safe Seas Ship Management FZE based in the United Arab Emirates.

The United Kingdom and Canada have announced similar actions, targeting several entities and individuals taking part in the procurement of Iranian UAVs and other military-related activities.

“The United States, in close coordination with our British and Canadian partners, will continue to use all means available to combat those who would finance Iran’s destabilizing activities,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

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