On March 21, the United States sanctioned three men and four organizations that procured equipment for Iran’s drone and weapons programs. The network, based in Iran and Turkey, had links to the Ministry of Defense. One firm was owned by the ministry. Two of the men tried to acquire European-made engines that could propel unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and surface-to-air missiles.
The United States will “expose foreign procurement networks in any jurisdiction” that support Iran’s military, said Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian Nelson. Tehran’s “well-documented proliferation of UAVs and conventional weapons to its proxies continues to undermine both regional security and global stability.”
By the spring of 2023, Iran had exported drones or drone technology to at least five countries on four continents as well as to at least seven proxy militias in the Middle East. Tehran’s largest exports were Shahed-136 suicide drones and Mohajer-6 attack drones provided to Russia, beginning in August 2022, for use in Ukraine.
Related Material: Iran’s Drone Exports Worldwide
The move marked the seventh round of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s drone program since Russia began importing drones from the Islamic Republic. The designations froze all assets of the cited people and organizations in the United States and restricted any transactions using dollars or the American financial system. They were imposed under Executive Order 13382, which applied to entities accused of supporting Iran’s nuclear proliferation and missile-related activities.
On March 21, The Justice Department unsealed indictments against five people, including the three sanctioned men, Murat Bukey, Amanallah Paidar, and Asghar Mahmoudi. They had attempted to export U.S. technology to Iran between 2005 and 2013. The items included a device that tests fuel cell power and a high-speed camera that can be used in nuclear and missile testing systems. Bukey was extradited to the United States from Spain in July 2022. He was sentenced to more than two years in prison in March 2023. Paidar and Mahmoudi were charged along with two other men, all of whom remained at large. The following is a list of those cited and statements from the State, Treasury, and Justice Departments.
The United States designated the following men:
- Amanallah Paidar, an Iranian commercial manager and procurement agent for the Defense Ministry-affiliated Defense Technology and Science Research Center (DTSRC)
- Asghar Mahmoudi, an Iranian who has facilitated the supply of equipment including marine electronics to Paidar, the DTSRC, and Defense Ministry drone developers
- Murat Bukey, a Turkish procurement agent who has worked with Paidar and the DTSRC
The United States designated the following firms:
- Defense Technology and Science Research Center (DTSRC), which conducted procurement, research, and development and is owned by the Ministry of Defense
- Farazan Industrial Engineering, Inc., which was based in Iran and used to acquire equipment for the DTSRC
- Selin Technic Co, which was based in Iran and run by Asghar Mahmoudi
- Ozone Havacilik Ve Savunma Sanayi Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, which was based in Turkey and run by Murat Bukey
Secretary of State Antony Blinken
The United States is designating four entities and three individuals for sanctions, pursuant to Executive Order 13382, involved in an Iranian military procurement network that has links to Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs. This procurement network operates on behalf of the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).
Today’s action follows Treasury’s March 9, 2023 designation of a People’s Republic of China-based network in connection with Iran’s UAV procurement efforts, as well as several previous actions targeting Iran’s UAV manufacturers and their executives since September 2022. Iran’s proliferation of weapons destabilizes the Middle East. The United States will continue to act to disrupt Iran’s proliferation of UAVs and work with Allies and partners to counter Iran’s weapons proliferation.
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), designated four entities and three individuals in Iran and Turkey for their involvement in the procurement of equipment, including European-origin engines of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in support of Iran’s UAV and weapons programs. This procurement network operates on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), which oversees several firms involved in UAV and ballistic missile development.
“Iran’s well-documented proliferation of UAVs and conventional weapons to its proxies continues to undermine both regional security and global stability,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States will continue to expose foreign procurement networks in any jurisdiction that supports Iran’s military industrial complex.”
Today’s action, which follows OFAC’s March 9, 2023 designation of a China-based network in connection with Iran’s UAV procurement efforts, as well as several previous OFAC actions targeting Iran’s UAV manufacturers and their executives since September 2022, is being taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382. MODAFL was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 on October 25, 2007, for having engaged, or attempted to engage, in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery. E.O. 13382 targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators and their supporters.
MODAFL’S DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE RESEARCH CENTER, AMANALLAH PAIDAR, AND FARAZAN INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING, INC.
The Iran-based Defense Technology and Science Research Center (DTSRC) is majority-owned by, and subordinate to, MODAFL. Previously sanctioned by the European Union (EU), the DTSRC falls within MODAFL’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO) and conducts defense-related procurement and research and development. DIO was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 on March 30, 2007, for engaging in activities that have materially contributed to the development of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The DTSRC is designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for being owned or controlled by, or for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, MODAFL.
Iran-based Amanallah Paidar (Paidar) has served as a commercial manager and procurement agent for the DTSRC. Paidar has procured items with UAV applications, including inertial measurement units and attitude and heading reference systems, for the DTSRC. Paidar also established and utilized Farazan Industrial Engineering, Inc. (Farazan) to acquire defense equipment for the DTSRC, and in one case attempted to procure tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of European-origin turbine engines applicable for UAVs and Iranian surface-to-air missiles. Paidar and Farazan are designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, the DTSRC.
MURAT BUKEY AND OZONE HAVACILIK VE SAVUNMA SANAYI TICARET ANONIM SIRKETI
Murat Bukey (Bukey) is a procurement agent who has supported Paidar and his DTSRC-related procurement. Bukey used his now-dormant company Ozon Spor Ve Hobi Urunleri (Ozon Spor) to facilitate the procurement of a variety of goods with defense applications, including chemical and biological detection devices, for Paidar. Bukey also attempted to provide European-origin engines with UAV and surface-to-air missile applications to Paidar and Farazan and, separately, sold more than 100 European-origin UAV engines and related accessories worth more than $1 million to companies that likely transshipped the items to Iran. In 2018, Bukey directed his associate to launch Ozone Havacilik Ve Savunma Sanayi Ticaret Anonim Sirketi (Ozone Aviation) to facilitate Bukey’s business with Iran. Bukey is a shareholder of Ozone Aviation and runs the company using the same online infrastructure he used to operate Ozon Spor.
Bukey is designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, Paidar.
Ozone Aviation is designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for being owned or controlled by, or for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Bukey.
ASGHAR MAHMOUDI AND SELIN TECHNIC CO
Iran-based Asghar Mahmoudi (Mahmoudi) has facilitated the supply of items, including marine electronics, to Paidar and the DTSRC. Mahmoudi has also paid commissions to Paidar in connection with separate defense contracts that Paidar facilitated for Mahmoudi. Separately, Mahmoudi has provided various equipment to MODAFL UAV developers Qods Aviation Industries (QAI) and Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA). Mahmoudi has owned and operated Selin Technic Co (Selin Technic) as a front company to facilitate his trade business with Paidar and other U.S.-designated Iranian military entities. Mahmoudi has used Selin Technic to procure thermal imaging cameras, computer systems, and other equipment and services in support of Paidar.
QAI was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 on December 12, 2013, for having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, MODAFL, and for being owned or controlled by the IRGC. HESA was designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 on September 17, 2008, for being owned or controlled by MODAFL, and for having provided support to the IRGC.
Mahmoudi and Selin Technic are designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 for having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of, Paidar.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons are prohibited.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals or entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals or entities designated today pursuant to E.O. 13382 could be subject to U.S. sanctions.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s FAQ 897.
For identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today, click here.
A federal court in the District of Columbia unsealed two indictments today charging multiple defendants with violations of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) for their roles in separate schemes to procure and export U.S. technology to Iran between 2005 and 2013. In connection with today’s announcement, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated three of the defendants and four entities for their involvement in the procurement of equipment that supports Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and weapons programs.
United States v. Paidar, et al.
According to the indictment, between 2012 and 2013, defendants Amanallah Paidar, of Iran, and Murat Bükey, of Turkey, conspired to procure and export U.S. technology for Iran through their companies Farazan Industrial Engineering, in Iran, and Ozon Spor Ve Hobbi Ürünleri, in Turkey. Specifically, Paidar and Bükey exported from the United States and transshipped through Turkey a device that can test the efficacy and power of fuel cells and attempted to obtain a bio-detection system that has application in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) research and use.
Bükey, who was extradited to the United States from Spain in July 2022, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the AECA and IEEPA in December 2022. He was sentenced yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 28 months in prison, with credit for time served. He will be removed from the United States after completing his sentence. Paidar is a fugitive and remains at large.
United States v. Mahmoudi, et al.
According to the indictment, between 2005 and 2009, defendants Agshar Mahmoudi, of Iran; Bahram Mahmoudi Mahmoud Alilou, of Iran; and Shahin Golshani, of the United Arab Emirates (UAE); conspired to obtain U.S. technology, including a high-speed camera that has known nuclear and ballistic missile testing applications, a nose landing gear assembly for an F-5 fighter jet, and a meteorological sensor system, through their companies Aran Modern Devices Kish Company, in Iran; and Modern Technologies, in the UAE. The defendants are fugitives and remain at large.
“These defendants sought to obtain valuable U.S.- origin goods that could assist Iran’s military and WMD aspirations, and in some instances, they were successful,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and our federal law enforcement partners will zealously pursue those who break these laws and harm our national security interests, regardless of where in the world they operate."
“With the help of our U.S. agency and international partners, the FBI thwarted an attempt to export advanced, American controlled, technological systems and goods,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI will not stand idly while hostile countries attempt to evade our laws and circumvent U.S. sanctions and we will work tirelessly to stop such activity. This sentencing further illustrates our willingness to reach beyond our borders, to protect American interests and bring all offenders to justice.”
“The sentencing of Murat Bukey and the charging of four others with conspiring to illegally export technologies and goods to Iran demonstrates our determination to hold those who attempt to circumvent U.S. export laws and sanctions accountable,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg, of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Export controls exist to protect the security of the United States and its people, and we will aggressively investigate those who threaten our national security by violating these laws. We are grateful to our international partners for their assistance in dismantling this scheme and bringing the defendant to justice.”
“Mr. Bukey acted on behalf of a larger network attempting to deliver sensitive U.S. technology into the hands of a hostile nation,” said Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “If we allow such networks to meet with success, they could potentially put the safety of every American at risk. Investigating the illegal exportation of sensitive technology has long been a hallmark of Homeland Security Investigations. HSI Washington, D.C. will continue to prioritize any investigation into illegal activity that threatens the security of the United States. Working with our federal law enforcement partners, HSI will exhaust all of our resources to ensure the safety of the American people.”
The investigation that led to these charges was conducted by the FBI, HSI, and the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry, Office of Export Enforcements’ Washington Field Offices, and coordinated by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla for the District of Columbia, and Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case, with support from Paralegal Specialist Michael Watts and Mariela Andrade. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing Bukey’s arrest and extradition.