Drone trade 

As the pending sale to Russia demonstrates, Iran markets its low-cost but capable drones for export and supplies them to proxy forces in the Middle East. A proven naval launch capability may help with its marketing.

Export sales are a part of Iran’s defense diplomacy, and its representatives are not shy about it. In March, U.S. officials were surprised to run into members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps selling missiles and drones at a booth at Qatar’s DIMDEX maritime security trade show. According to Arab News, the IRGC set up shop at a position right next to U.S. drone maker General Atomics, like friendly competitors at the Sea-Air-Space show. (The U.S. considers the IRGC a terrorist organization.)

The Iranian presence at the show drew a denunciation from the U.S. State Department, which called for Iran’s exclusion on the grounds that it “single-handedly is threatening maritime stability throughout the Gulf region.”

“Transactions related to Iranian weapons are generally sanctionable under multiple U.S. authorities, including sanctions related to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” warned State Department spokesman Ned Price in a statement.