<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> WorldTribune.com: Mobile Drone wars: U.S. sanctions Iranian contractor that supplies UAVs

Drone wars: U.S. sanctions Iranian contractor that supplies UAVs

Friday, September 19, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

WASHINGTON The United States has targeted Iran's leading manufacturer of surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Co. Treasury said the company, known by its Iranian acronym, HESA, was a key contractor to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and supplying the Ababil UAV.

"The IRGC utilizes the Ababil UAV, manufactured by HESA," Treasury said on Sept. 17. "HESA produces different variants of the Ababil UAV, which can be used for surveillance and attack."

Officials said HESA, owned by the Defense Ministry, has exported Ababil. They said a leading customer was Hizbullah, which deployed Ababil in the 2006 war with Israel.

"HESA utilizes its own facilities for the inspection, maintenance, repair overhaul research, development, and manufacture of military and civilian aircraft and related military logistic systems," Treasury said. "HESA conducts research on, development of, production of, and flight operations for UAVs in Iran."

Officials identified a key subsidiary of HESA. They said Farasakht Industries specializes in manufacturing aerospace tools and equipment.

Over the last year, Treasury has been imposing sanctions on IRGC and Defense Ministry fronts. Officials said HESA and other companies played significant roles in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"Iran attempts to shield its procurement activities behind a maze of entities, essentially hoodwinking those still doing business with Iran into facilitating illicit transactions for the transport of dual use, missile-related items," Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey said.

Treasury also imposed sanctions on Iran Electronics Industries, Shiraz Electronics Industries , Iran Communications Industries and Armament Industries Group. The measure froze any U.S. assets of the Iranian entities and banned Americans from any dealings with the sanctioned companies.

Iran Electronics and subsidiaries Shiraz Electronics and Iran Communications were said to be owned by the Defense Ministry. Iran Electronics was said to provide electro-optics and lasers and manufactures military tactical communication systems.

Shiraz has produced military radars, microwave electron vacuum tubes, naval electronics, avionics and control systems, training simulators, missile guidance technology, and electronic test equipment. Iran Communications Industries has supplied tactical communications and encryption systems to the military. Armament Industries Group produces artillery, multiple rocket launchers as well as components for Iran's nuclear program.

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