The EU is expected within the next few days to impose sanctions on seven entities tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and involved in providing drones to Russia for its war against Ukraine, Axios reported citing senior EU officials.
A senior EU official said the package of the sanctions was formally presented on Wednesday in a meeting of the European Commission with the ambassadors of the member states, Axios reported.
The sanctions package will likely be rolled out within the next few days, ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“The package includes sanctions against the IRGC Aerospace Force, which the bloc says is involved in the delivery of drones to Russia and the training of Russian operators, and the IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization, which the official said is involved in the development of drones,” a senior EU official told Axios.
In addition, Oje Parvaz Mado Nafar Company, Paravar Pars Company, Qods Aviation Industries, and Shahed Aviation Industries, are also entities expected to be sanctioned.
The US has already imposed last month trade restrictions on those Iranian entities over their involvement in producing and delivering drones to Russia which were used in attacks on Ukraine.
The list of entities was chosen based on intelligence reports provided by Ukraine, including analysis of Iranian drones that were captured and showed which dual-use materials were used to manufacture them, a senior EU official said.
Shift of focus
This sanctions package will mark a shift of focus for the EU, which has in the past concentrated its efforts on Iran’s nuclear program and not on the IRGC military activities internationally.
Ties between the EU and the Iranian regime have deteriorated during last year’s stalemate over reviving talks on the now defunct 2015 nuclear deal.
One of Iran’s demands in the negotiations to return to compliance with the nuclear accord was for Washington to remove the IRGC from the US foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) blacklist.
The IRGC is a powerful military force in Iran that has a foreign espionage arm – the Quds Force – which Washington accuses of conducting a global terrorist campaign.
“The IRGC is much more the focus than it used to be, and there is a real change of mindset,” the official said.
More EU governments, in addition to the European Parliament, are increasingly calling for the IRGC to be designated a terrorist organization.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last month: “We are looking indeed at a new round of sanctions, and I would support also listing the Revolutionary Guards. I have heard several ministers asking for that and I think they are right.”
However, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said such a decision to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity cannot be made without an EU court determining that they are.
“It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don’t like you,” he said.