Amid European efforts to drag Iran to the nuclear negotiating table, America increases pressure on Iran

WASHINGTON – As part of the ongoing pressure campaign against Iran and its proxies in the region, the US Treasury announced in a statement on Friday that it has imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials, individuals and companies, on accusations of providing vital support to the drone program of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its Quds Force branch.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control statement indicated that the blacklist includes brigadier general Saeed Aghajani, the leader of the IRGC Air-Space Force’s UAV command, on charges of his involvement behind the attack on both Saudi Aramco and the Mercer Street merchant ship off the coast of Oman, which resulted in the death of two of its crew members. In addition to Aghajani, the sanctions affected three citizens and two companies in Iran.

The US Treasury held the Quds Force responsible for using drones or handing them over to Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah (Lebanon), Hamas (Palestine), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraq) and the Houthis (Yemen), in addition to exporting them to Ethiopia where the worsening crisis in Tigray threatens to undermine the stability of the region more broadly.

These sanctions come as the European Union seeks to drag Iran to the nuclear negotiating table. Peter Stano, the European Union’s spokesman for foreign affairs, announced that the recent meeting held in Brussels between the parties to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan nuclear agreement was useful and helped define a way forward towards the resumption of talks in Vienna. He added that the EU is working to set a specific date for completing the talks as soon as possible.