EU adopts new sanctions against Iran to prevent export of drone components

The Council of the European Union has adopted new sanctions against Iran on July 20, "in view of Iran's military support of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine."

The sanctions prohibit the export of components to Iran which are commonly used in the construction of attack drones. Six Iranians involved in supporting the Russian military are subject to an asset freeze and travel restrictions.

The sanctions come after months of reports from the Ukrainian authorities that the Iranian-made Russian attack drones contain western parts. The kamikaze drones are used to exhaust and detect Ukrainian air defense prior to launching missiles.

An Iranian-made Shahed drone shot down by air defense over Mykolaiv on July 18 had the words "Made in Ireland" clearly visible on its engine. The Irish Department of Trade has said it is investigating how the components allegedly made in Ireland ended up in the drone.

National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov also reported on June 3 that the Ukrainian authorities found parts inside drones produced by Ukraine's allies.

The EU said in the sanctions announcement that it condemns "the delivery of Iranian drones to Russia and their deadly deployment in the war of aggression against Ukraine."

The latest sanctions follow three previous drone-related measures, the last of which was in February 2023. The U.S. sanctioned seven Iranian entities for the same reason in January.

In June, the U.S. government issued guidance for the U.S. private sector about legal obligations and internal controls to curb Iran’s drone-related activities. The same month, it reported that Iran is helping Russia build a drone factory within its territory.

U.S. intelligence believes that the plant in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone in Tatarstan could become operational in early 2024.

Russia has been using Iranian-made kamikaze drones to attack Ukraine since September, launching attacks against civilians and destroying energy facilities across the country.