Iranian, Chinese charged by US with exporting drone components to Iran

Iranian, Chinese charged by US with exporting drone components to Iran

WASHINGTON (AFP): The United States has charged an Iranian and a Chinese national with allegedly supplying microelectronics to Iran for use in the drone program of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Hossein Hatefi Ardakani and Gary Lam, also known as Lin Jinghe, are accused in a September 2020 indictment unsealed on Tuesday with conspiring to illegally purchase and export US-made dual-use microelectronics to Iran.

“We remain focused on disrupting the efforts of Iran and its agents to circumvent US sanctions in support of Iran’s weapons programs, including its drone program, which have been used to support and supply terrorist organizations and other foreign adversaries — such as Russia — around the globe,” US attorney Matthew Graves said in a statement.

According to the indictment, Ardakani and his co-conspirators used foreign companies to evade US export controls on sensitive equipment.

“Between June and September 2015, Ardakani and Lam caused an unwitting French company to purchase from a US company several pieces of analog-to-digital converters,” the Justice Department said.

The converters had applications in wireless and broadband communications, radar and satellite subsystems, antenna array positioning and infrared imaging, it said.

The Justice Department said Lam had a division of the French company ship the analog-to-digital converters to Hong Kong where they were then reexported to Iran.

“Ardakani and his co-conspirators crafted a sophisticated web of front companies to obscure the illicit acquisition of US and foreign technology to procure components for deadly UAVs,” special agent Michael Krol said. “These very components have been found in use by Iran’s allies in current conflicts, including in Ukraine.”

The Justice Department said Ardakani and Lam remain at large and are believed to reside abroad.

The Treasury Department announced meanwhile that it was imposing sanctions on a network of 10 entities — led by Ardakani — and four individuals based in Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia.