Iran sanctions
Iran sanctionsiStock

The US plans a sanctions campaign against Iran’s evolving capabilities for precision strikes using drones and guided missiles, US officials told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The effort comes as Western security officials say they see those capabilities as a more immediate danger to Middle East stability than Iran’s nuclear-enrichment and ballistic-missile programs.

The US has sanctioned some of Iran’s missile programs in past years, but officials told The Wall Street Journal that targeting Iran’s procurement networks, such as the providers of parts used to build the drones and precision-guided missiles, could more effectively disrupt those activities.

“It’s part of a comprehensive approach so we’re dealing with all aspects of the Iranian threat,” a senior US official said.

Top military and diplomatic officials say they have seen a major increase in the use of guided missiles and drones against US forces and allies.

“Iran’s drones are becoming an increasing threat to our allies in the region,” said another US official.

Iran’s representatives at the United Nations in New York didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Iran’s ballistic missile tests and satellite launches have long been a cause of concern for the West and particularly the US, which says that Iran’s ballistic missile tests are a violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231.

The resolution, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, says Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Iran denies its ballistic missile tests violate this resolution. Its outgoing President Hassan Rouhani has stressed in the past that Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not consider that a violation of international agreements.

The planned campaign comes as the Biden administration continues the indirect talks with Iran on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but the officials told The Wall Street Journal the planned drone and missile measures are a separate part of Washington’s Iran policy.