January 10, 2023 | Flash Brief

Treasury Sanctions Leaders of Iranian Drone and Missile Companies

January 10, 2023 | Flash Brief

Treasury Sanctions Leaders of Iranian Drone and Missile Companies

Latest Developments

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned six executives and board members of one of Iran’s top drone manufacturers, Qods Aviation Industries (QAI), on Friday for their role in providing weapons to Russia. Russia has used the QAI drones, such as the Shahed-131, Shahed-136, and Mohajer-6, since September to attack critical infrastructure and civilian targets in Ukraine. The department also sanctioned the director of Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) — itself a subsidiary of Iran’s sanctioned Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) — which is responsible for overseeing Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Expert Analysis

“Targeting Tehran’s drones at a minimum requires going after both domestic and foreign supply chains of procurers, producers, and proliferators that have turned the Islamic Republic into a drone power. By sanctioning multiple executives at once, the recent Treasury action can impede the musical chairs often associated with sanctioning Iranian entities.”
Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

Prominent New Targets

Friday’s targets included QAI Board Chairman Seyed Hojatollah Ghoreishi and QAI Managing Director Ghassem Damavandian. Ghoreishi, Iran’s deputy defense minister, is the head of the supply, research, and industry affairs section of Iran’s MODAFL. According to Treasury, Ghoreishi negotiated the agreement to supply UAVs to Russia, while Damavandian facilitated the transfer of UAVs to Iranian military services and the training of Russian personnel on the drones’ use. The United States also sanctioned AIO’s director, Nader Khoon Siavash, for his role in Iran’s ballistic missile production, testing, and deals with international suppliers.

Wartime Impact

Russia allegedly began to import Iranian drones over the summer to make up for its dwindling supply of cruise missiles and first deployed them extensively in the fall. The Shahed-136 and its smaller version, the Shahed-131, are “suicide” drones, better known as loitering munitions, and cost a fraction of the price of Russia’s land-attack cruise missiles. The drones have an estimated range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and carry a light warhead.

Iranian and U.S.-allied officials reported that Iran also plans to provide Russia with the Fateh-110 and Zulfiqar short-range ballistic missiles. The Fateh-110 has a reported range of 250 to 300 kilometers (roughly 150 to 190 miles), whereas the Zulfiqar has a reported 700-kilometer (435-mile) range.

Violations of UN Security Council Resolution

According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Iran’s provision of drones to Russia violates United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231, which prohibits Iran from providing military UAVs without approval by the UNSC. The United States has long struggled to hold Iran accountable for its serial violations of UNSCR 2231, including its robust ballistic missile testing over a period of years. Iran’s illicit commercial supply chain and robust domestic arms industry has made it a significant drone power over the past decade.

Related Analysis

Iranian Shahed-136 Drones Increase Russian Strike Capacity and Lethality in Ukraine,” by John Hardie and Ryan Brobst

Iran Is Now at War With Ukraine,” by John Hardie and Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iranian drones could make Russia’s military more lethal in Ukraine,” by John Hardie, Ryan Brobst, and Behnam Ben Taleblu


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Missiles Iran Sanctions Iran-backed Terrorism Sanctions and Illicit Finance