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US hits Iran drone programme with sanctions

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WASHINGTON: The United States has issued a fresh round of Iran-related sanctions tied to an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) drone programme that it said threatened regional stability, the Treasury Department said on Friday.

US officials, in a statement, said the IRGC has been providing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones for use by Iran-backed groups, including Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and in crisis-hit Ethiopia.

“Iran’s proliferation of UAVs across the region threatens international peace and stability. Iran and its proxy militants have used UAVs to attack US forces, our partners, and international shipping,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.

“Treasury will continue to hold Iran accountable for its irresponsible and violent acts.”

Tehran, nuclear deal partners seeking date for Vienna talks

The sanctions announced on Friday targeting four people, including Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Brigadier General Saeed Aghajani, who the United States says oversees the UAV operations of the Aerospace Force.

The Treasury Department’s actions also target two companies — Kimia Part Sivan Co. and Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar Co. — that it said procured components for the programme and provided other assistance.

The sanctions will block access to property subject to US jurisdiction of the persons designated, while US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with the designated persons or their blocked property, the Treasury said.

Resumption of talks

In Brussels, Iran and world powers seeking to revive a 2015 nuclear deal are trying to agree a date for the resumption of talks in Vienna as soon as possible, a European Union spokesperson said on Friday.

Iran’s top negotiator said after talks in Brussels this week that negotiations in Vienna will resume by the end of November.

EU spokesperson Peter Stano said the Oct 27 meeting in Brussels was “useful” and “helped to define a way forward to resume negotiations in Vienna”.

“We are working together with other partners, including Iran and other signatories (of the Iran nuclear deal), to fix a concrete date as early as possible to reconvene in Vienna,” Stano told a regular briefing.

In April, Tehran and six powers started to discuss ways to salvage the 2015 nuclear pact, which three years ago then-US President Donald Trump abandoned. Trump then reimposed sanctions on Iran that have devastated its economy by squeezing its oil exports.

But the talks have been on hold since the election of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in June, who is expected to take a tough approach if the talks resume in Vienna.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2021

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