File photo of two female members of the security forces guarding the press during the official commissioning ceremony of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran, 21 August 2010. EFE/Abedin Taherkenareh

US imposes sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program after UN embargo expires

Washington, Oct 18 (EFE).- The United States announced Wednesday new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile and drone program, on the day that restrictions imposed by the UN Security Council expired.

Joe Biden’s administration also signed a declaration with European Union countries, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Israel and Colombia, among other allies, pledging to take the “necessary steps to prevent” the supply of missile-related technology to Iran.

The US Treasury Department announced in a statement the imposition of sanctions on 11 individuals and eight companies associated with Iran, China, Hong Kong, and Venezuela for allegedly facilitating the acquisition of missile and drone technology by the Tehran government.

Despite the expiration of the Security Council embargo, the Treasury Department stressed that “the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to counter the threat posed by Iran’s procurement, development, and proliferation of missiles, UAVs, and other military weapons.”

Among those sanctioned are Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani and QAI, a subsidiary of the Defense Ministry that Washington accuses of supplying drones and weapons to Venezuela.

These restrictions block the property and assets of those sanctioned in the United States and prohibit any person, company or entity from engaging in commercial transactions with them.

On Wednesday, the United States also promoted the release of a statement by 45 countries in the Proliferation Security Initiative condemning Iran’s ballistic missile program.

These countries pledged to interdict Iran’s shipment or departure of missile- and drone-related technology, as well as to share intelligence on that program.

Washington and its allies recalled in the statement that the UN Security Council had planned to lift the embargo on this date in exchange for assurances that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, but “this has not happened,” they stressed.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which limited Iran’s nuclear program and was passed unanimously in 2015, stipulated that the embargo would be lifted on Oct. 18, 2023.

But in 2018, then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran, which responded by accelerating uranium enrichment again.

Iran claimed on Wednesday that national and regional sanctions against its ballistic program should be lifted because the UN restrictive measures have ended.

However, the Council of the European Union, which brings together member states, said in a statement on Tuesday that it had decided to keep in place restrictive measures because it saw “valid reasons” to refrain from lifting sanctions “in view of Iran’s failure to meet its commitments” under the nuclear deal.

Russia, for its part, regards the restrictions as having been lifted, which opens up the possibility of Moscow acquiring Iranian missiles for the war in Ukraine. EFE