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Controls Can Impede the Iranian Drone Program

Iran’s drone program has been able to advance despite export controls and sanctions in part because Iran has a relatively mature and diversified drone industry comprised of government, academic, and private actors. Nonetheless, Iran’s drones are believed to be less capable than those of other major drone producers, and this gap in capabilities is, in part, the result of several decades of sanctions and export controls. Supply-side controls will likely continue to limit the size and capability of Iran’s drone program by increasing costs, dragging out development timelines, and impeding Iran’s ability to produce high-end drones in significant numbers.