INTERNATIONAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
An increasing number of countries are refusing to flag vessels affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), and are revoking flags from IRISL vessels, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. In June, Sierra Leone revoked its flag from the Amin, a vessel owned by the U.N. sanctioned IRISL affiliate Irano-Hind. Since then, Sierra Leone has revoked the flags of a further eight IRISL vessels. In August, Tuvalu and Tanzania de-registered dozens of Iranian tankers owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC). The semi-autonomous Tanzanian region of Zanzibar said in August that it too would deregister NITC-owned tankers, which it claims were registered by a Dubai shipping agent without government approval. NITC was blacklisted by the United States in July and accused of using front companies and other deceptive methods in order to evade sanctions.
Source(s): “Global Advisory to the Maritime Industry Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines,” Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury, July 19, 2012; “UPDATE 2-Tanzania Confirms it Reflagged 36 Iranian Ships, to Deregister Them,” Reuters, August 12, 2012; “Tuvalu Ship Registry,” Ministry of Transport and Communication, Funafuti, Tuvalu, August 16, 2012; “Howard Berman Statement on Tuvalu’s Decision to Deregister Vessels Owned by Iran, Ending Reflagging Effort,” U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, August 21, 2012; “United States Increases Sanctions Against The Government Of Iran And Its Proliferation Networks,” U.S. Treasury Department, July 12, 2012.
Update: In September 2012, Moldova announced that it had de-registered about twelve IRISL vessels.
Source: Benoit Faucon and Colum Murphy, “Iran Shippers Face Difficulty Dodging Sanctions,” The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2012.
Four men were arrested by German federal authorities in Hamburg, Oldenburg, and Weimar on August 15, 2012, on suspicion of illegally supplying Iran with nuclear reactor components. The home and company of a businessman in Halle were also searched. The suspects are accused of having supplied specialized valves for a heavy water reactor under construction in Iran, which is a violation of German trade law. The transactions allegedly took place in 2010 and 2011 and the suspects appear to have used front companies in Turkey and Azerbaijan to circumvent German law. Three of the suspects, known only as Kianzad Ka., Gholamali Ka., and Hamid Kh., are dual German-Iranian citizens, and a fourth, known as Rudolf M., is a German national. Gholamali Ka., 59, runs a Hamburg-based company specialized in exporting valves and pumps with his son, Kianzad Ka., 25. Rudolf M., 78, is an engineer and owns a Weimar-based plant specialized in custom fittings. An Iranian national identified as Hossein T. met with these men in an effort to fill an order for Modern Industries Technique Company (MITEC), an Iranian company responsible for the design and construction of Iran’s IR-40 heavy water reactor near Arak. Iran aims to complete this reactor by 2013.
Source(s): "Festnahmen wegen mutmaβlichen Verstoβes gegen das Iranembargo," Press Release, German Attorney General, August 15, 2012 [in German]; "Germany accuses four of breaking Iran nuclear embargo," BBC News, August 15, 2012; Cathrin Gilber, Holger Stark, and Andreas Ulrich, “German Investigators Uncover Illegal Exports,” Der Spiegel online, October 1, 2012.
Two Iranian nationals, Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi, were arrested on June 19, 2012 and subsequently charged with possession of explosives, preparing to commit a felony, and intent to commit grievous harm. The two men are accused of shipping more than 100 kg of the explosive RDX into Kenya, only 15 kg of which have been recovered by Kenyan officials. The Iranians are allegedly members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. The explosives may have been shipped from Iran aboard a vessel controlled by the Hafiz Darya Shipping Company, which is linked to Iran’s national shipping company the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. Both men claim to be Iranian civil servants and pled not guilty to the charges. They were released on bail after handing their passports to Kenyan authorities.
Source: Maureen Mudi, “Iran Ship with Explosives on Way to Kenya,” AllAfrica.com, July 25, 2012; “Iranians on Trial in Kenya Deny Bomb Plot Charges,” Reuters, July 23, 2012; “Kenya Police: Iranian Terror Suspects Shipped 100 kg of Explosive to Hit Western Targets,” Associated Press via washingtonpost.com, July 10, 2012.
Parviz Khaki, a 43 year old citizen of Iran, and Zongcheng Yi, a resident of China, were indicted on July 12, 2012 for allegedly participating in a conspiracy between October 2008 and January 2011 to export to Iran U.S.-origin items used to construct gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment, without obtaining the required licenses. Khaki and Yi allegedly attempted to export 20 tons of C-350 maraging steel, pressure transducers, and vacuum pumps and accessories to Iran from the United States. Khaki also allegedly conspired to export 20 tons of 7075-O aluminum alloy rods with a diameter of 80 mm, 20 tons of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy rods with a diameter of 150 mm, Arnokrome III magnetic tape, mass spectrometers, magnetic gauging equipment, a TCH600 nitrogen/hydrogen/oxygen analyzer, and radioactive materials including barium-133, europium-152, cobalt-57, and cadmium-109. Khaki and Yi successfully exported two twister speed lathes and nickel alloy 120 wire from the United States to Iran. Khaki was arrested in the Philippines on May 24, 2012 while Yi remains at large. The maximum potential sentence that Khaki and Yi face is twenty years in prison for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), twenty years in prison for each IEEPA violation count, five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States, ten years in prison for each smuggling count, and twenty years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Source: “Two Indicted for Alleged Efforts to Supply Iran with U.S.-Materials for Gas Centrifuges to Enrich Uranium,” Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, July 13, 2012; U.S. v. Parviz Khaki and Zongcheng Yi, U.S. District Court , District of Columbia, July 12, 2012 (PDF).
Richard Phillips was sentenced to 92 months in prison on June 21, 2012 after pleading guilty to attempting to export carbon fiber from the United States to Iran without obtaining the required license, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). In October 2011, Phillips agreed to export a spool of aerospace-grade carbon fiber to Iran via the Philippines in response to an online advertisement posted by an undercover U.S. federal agent. Although the undercover agent warned Phillips that the export of the carbon fiber was illegal, Phillips proceeded with the transaction. Phillips was arrested after taking delivery of the carbon fiber.
Source: “Bronx Man Sentenced to 92 Months for Attempting to Export Carbon Fiber to Iran,” Press Release, The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, U.S. Department of Justice, June 21, 2012; “N.Y. Man Caught in Sting Sentenced to Prison for Illegal Carbon Fiber Export to Iran,” The Export Practitioner, Vol. 26, Num. 7, July 2012.
David Levick, a 50 year old Australian national, and his Sydney-based company ICM Components Inc., have been indicted for conspiring to defraud the United States and for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Arms Export Control Act. Between 2007 and 2008, Levick allegedly arranged for shipment from the United States to Iran, via Australia, of shock mounted light assemblies and precision pressure transducers. Levick also sought U.S.-origin goods, on behalf of an Iranian trading company, which are classified as defense articles by the U.S. government, including VG-34 Series Miniature Vertical Gyroscopes (used to control the pitch and roll of missiles and torpedoes), and K2000 Series Servo Actuators (used for aircraft steering). The indictment was returned in May 16, 2011 and unsealed in October 2011. Levick could face five years in prison for conspiracy, 20 years in prison for each of the four counts of violating IEEPA, and the forfeiture of all proceeds from these violations. Levick remains at large.
Source: “Australian Man and His Firm Indicted in Plot to Export Restricted Military and Other U.S. Technology to Iran,” Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, 2-29-2012; U.S. v. David Levick and ICM Components, Inc., U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 2-29-2012.
Ramin Pouladian-Kari, director of GTC Associates, a British company, was found guilty on December 12, 2011, by the U.K. Central Criminal Court on charges of illegally exporting to Iran goods that could have been used to make weapons of mass destruction. Between May 25, 2008 and December 21, 2009, Pouladian-Kari and GTC Associates conspired with Iran Tablo Company in Tehran to export 361 dual-use electrical switchgears via a front company in Dubai, despite being denied a license for the exports in July 2009. One shipment of switchgears was exported; two other shipments were seized by British authorities before leaving the country. Pouladian-Kari was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work. Also found guilty was Arbrene Hussain, a company employee who helped with paperwork for the illegal shipments.
Source: “Businessman Jailed for Potential WMD Exports,” Press Release, UK HM Revenue & Customs, 12-12-2011; "Iran 'nuclear parts' exporter gets suspended term," Get Surrey, 12-13-2011.
Five individuals and four companies were indicted on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States, smuggling, illegally exporting U.S. goods, including defense articles, to Iran, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, between June 2007 and February 2008, the defendants fraudulently purchased 6,000 radio frequency modules from a Minnesota company and illegally exported the modules, via Singapore, to Iran. Some of the components were later found in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq. The defendants include Hossein Larijani, Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng, and Hia Soo Gan Benson. The companies charged include Paya Electronics Complex, an Iranian company, and Singapore-based Opto Electronics Pte, Ltd., NEL Electronics Pte. Ltd., and Corezing International Pte. Ltd. The indictment was returned in September 2010 and unsealed in October 2011. Seng, Nam, Hia, and Wong were arrested in October 2011, in Singapore, in connection with a U.S. extradition request. They currently await extradition to the United States. Hossein Larijani remains at large. Fifteen entities linked to this conspiracy, including the five defendants, have also been added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Entity List, which imposes a licensing requirement on the export of any item subject to Commerce regulation, with a presumption of denial.
Larijani may have connections to Majid Kakavand, an accused Iranian procurement agent who has been indicted in the United States for illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran, including to Iranian military entities involved in nuclear and ballistic missile work.
Source: “Five Individuals Indicted in a Fraud Conspiracy Involving Exports to Iran of U.S. Components Later Found in Bombs in Iraq,” Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, 10-25-2011; “Singapore to extradite 4 people for Iran exports,” The Associated Press via Businessweek, 2-10-2012.
New York resident, Jeng "Jay" Shih, and his company Sunrise Technologies and Trading Corporation, pleaded guilty on October 7, 2011 in U.S. District Court to conspiring to illegally export U.S.-origin computers to Iran. From 2007 through April 2011, Shih and Sunrise conspired with a company operating in Dubai and Tehran, whose primary business involved purchasing U.S.-origin computer equipment on behalf of Iranian customers, to illegally export computer equipment controlled for anti-terrorism reasons to Iran without the required export licenses. A civil settlement with the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control requires Shih and his company forfeit $1.25 million. According to a related agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security, Shih and his company will also be denied export privileges for ten years if any further violations occur during a ten-year probationary period.
Source: "New York Resident and His Company Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Export Computer-Related Equipment to Iran," Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, 10-7-2011; Order Relating to Jeng Shih A/K/A Jay Shih, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, 10-11-2011; Plea Agreement, U.S. v. Jeng Shih, et al., U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 10-7-2011.
Update: Jeng "Jay" Shih was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment and Sunrise Technologies and Trading Corporation was sentenced to 24 months' corporate probation on Feb. 17, 2012.
Source: "New York Resident and His Company Sentenced for Conspiracy to Export Computer-Related Equipment to Iran," Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, 2-17-2012.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and 15 affiliates were indicted in New York state court for illegally funneling more than $60 million through the American banking system since 2008. IRISL and its co-defendants were allegedly able to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran by falsifying records and transacting through shell companies established in countries such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Prosecutors said IRISL needed access to U.S. banks to compete in the shipping sector, which primarily does business in U.S. currency. Banks deceived by the scheme included JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America—though the banks are not accused of any wrongdoing. The United States believes IRISL is integral to Iran's efforts to obtain banned technology for its nuclear and missile programs. Though IRISL was sanctioned by the United States in 2008, this is the first time it has faced criminal charges in U.S. courts. The New York District Attorney acknowledged the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control for its role in uncovering the scheme.
Source: “DA Vance Announces Indictment of Iranian Shipping Line for the Illegal Use of Banks in Manhattan,” Press Release, New York County District Attorney’s Office, 6-20-2011; Indictment, New York v. Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, 6-20-2011 (PDF); Karen Freifeld & Phil Milford, “Iran Shipping Firm Faces Charges in Money-Making Scheme,” Bloomberg, 6-20-2011; Jo Becker, “Iranian Company Charged With Tricking U.S. Banks,” The New York Times, 6-20-2011.
California resident and Iranian national Davoud Baniameri pleaded guilty on May 31, 2011 in U.S. District Court to attempting to illegally export to Iran 10 connector adapters for the TOW and TOW2 missile systems in 2009. One of Baniameri’s two co-defendants, Andro Telemi, is currently awaiting trial. Telemi is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iran who allegedly assisted Baniameri with the attempted export of the missile components. The other co-defendant, Syed Majid Mousavi, was the intended recipient of the exported materials. Mousavi, an Iranian citizen, remains at large and is believed to be living in Iran.
Source: “Iranian National Pleads Guilty in Plot to Illegally Export Missile Components and Radio Test Sets to Iran,” Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, 5-31-2011; Plea Agreement, U.S. v. Baniameri, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 5-31-2011 (PDF).
Update: Baniameri was sentenced to 51 months' imprisonment on August 12, 2011.
Source: "Iranian National Sentenced to 51 Months in Prison for Plot to Illegally Export Missile Components and Radio Tests Sets to Iran," Press Release, U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois, 8-15-2011.
Update: On July 26, 2012, Telemi pleaded guilty to a felony charge of trying to illegally export missile parts to Iran. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Source: “American Pleads Guilty to Trying to Export Missile Parts to Iran,” Reuters, July 26, 2012.
Spanish police seized 9 U.S.-made Bell-112 military transport helicopters and aviation spare parts, and arrested 5 Spanish businessmen suspected of attempting to illegally export the seized materials to Iran. The police also arrested three Iranians accused of traveling to Spain to negotiate their purchase. Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said that the Iran-bound helicopters, which had been stashed in industrial warehouses in Barcelona and Madrid, were purchased in Israel. According to the police, the aviation spare parts were earmarked for transport to Venezuela. The export of the helicopters and spare parts, which were valued at $140 million, is subject to both Spanish and European Union controls and is prohibited by the United Nations.
Source: “Spain Halts Sale of Military Choppers to Iran: Police,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 5-26-2011; “Iran Helicopters: Spain Holds Eight Over ‘Illegal Sale,’” BBC News, 5-26-2011; “Spain Stops Sale to Iran of Helicopters Purchased in Israel,” The Jerusalem Post, 5-26-2011.
A San Diego federal grand jury indicted two Belgians, Willy A.E. De Greef and Frederic Roland Nicholas Depelchin, for obtaining aircraft and helicopter parts from U.S. suppliers and transferring them to Iran in violation of the U.S. trade embargo on Iran. The parts were allegedly purchased through two Belgium-based companies, Meca Airway Ltd. and Meca Overseas Airways Ltd., which De Greef and Depelchin co-owned. The parts, valued in the millions of dollars, included fuel cells, navigation systems, communication controls, turbine bypass valves, switches and fuel level indicators. Fraudulent documentation allegedly misled U.S. vendors as to the parts’ intended final destination. Both men face numerous charges, including conspiracy to export to an embargoed country, wire fraud, smuggling and money laundering. De Greef is in custody, but Depelchin is still at large.
Source: Indictment, U.S. v. De Greef, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, 5-24-2011 (PDF); Greg Moran, “Feds: Two Belgians Sold Aircraft Parts to Iran,” San Diego Union-Tribune, 5-17-2011.
U.S. nationals Hamid Seifi and Michael Edward Todd, along with their respective companies, Galaxy Aviation Services and The Parts Guys, LLC, have pleaded guilty to charges that they illegally exported military equipment to Iran from November 2008 through January 2010. The charges were brought by a federal grand jury in Georgia in 2010 against 7 individuals and 5 corporate entities. The 12 defendants, based in the United States, France, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, were accused of planning to export parts for the Bell AH-1 attack helicopter, the UH-1 Huey attack helicopter, as well as F-5 and F-4 fighter jets, without the required U.S. export licenses. According to prosecutors, the parts were to be transferred to Iran (after passing through various other suppliers in Europe and the Middle East) to help repair Iran’s aging aircraft fleet. Also charged were the French company Aerotechnic, along with its president Philippe Sanchez and sales manager Luc Teuly; Dubai-based Aletra General Trading and its Iranian employee Syed Amir Ahmed Najfi; and Seifi’s Iranian relatives Hassan Seifi and Reza Seifi, along with their Iran-based firm, Sabanican Company. All 8 remaining parties have been added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s “Entity List,” and all of the remaining individuals charged are still at large.
Source: “Members of International Procurement Network Indicted for Supplying Iran with U.S. Military Aircraft Components – Total of 12 Defendants in U.S., France, U.A.E., and Iran Charged,” Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Atlanta Division, 6-23-2011; Indictment, U.S. v. Todd, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia, 9-30-2010 (PDF).
On March 19, 2011 Turkish Authorities seized a large weapons cache destined for Syria from an Ilyushin cargo aircraft operated by Yas Air, an Iranian cargo airline. The cargo, which was labeled as “spare auto parts,” included AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns and ammunition, as well as 60-mm and 120-mm mortar shells. Following an inspection of the seized weapons, a U.N. Security Council Panel found it to be a violation of Security Council resolution 1747, which prohibits arms exports from Iran. Yas Air is a “civilian arm” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to the United Nations, and a successor to Pars Aviation Services Company, which was sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council in 2007. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Yas Air has moved IRGC-Qods Force personnel and weapons to Syria.
Sources: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010),” – Final Report, United Nations Report, June 12, 2012; “Treasury Targets Iranian Arms Shipments,” Press Release, U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 27, 2012.
Three members of a Bogota, Colombia family were arrested in connection with a U.S. federal indictment charging them with illegally attempting to export 22 F-5 fighter jet engines to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Executive Orders banning exports to Iran. Amparo Echeverri Valdes, Carlos Alfredo Pantoja-Coral, and Diego M. Echeverri were detained in Florida, while a fourth family member, Felipe Echeverri, is still at large and believed to be in Colombia. Between January and March 2011, the family members conspired to sell the engines to an undercover agent for $320,000, and to help export the engines from Miami to Iran, via Panama.
Source: “4 Family Members Charged in Conspiracy to Export F-5 Fighter Jet Engines to Iran,” News Release, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 3-23-2011; “Four Charged in Plot to Export Jet Engines to Iran,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 3-23-2011.
Update: Diego M. Echeverri, Carlos Alfredo Pantoja-Coral, and Amparo Echeverri pleaded guilty in 2011 and were each sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment.
Source: Judgment, U.S. v. Diego M. Echeverri, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida; Judgment, U.S. v. Carlos Alfredo Pantoja-Coral, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida; Judgment, U.S. v. Amparo Echeverri Valdes, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.
The Israeli Navy seized a cargo vessel carrying 6 Chinese-made C-704 (Nasr 1) anti-ship missiles in the Mediterranean Sea. Also seized were 2,500 mortar shells, some 67,000 rounds of ammunition, 2 Kelvin Hughes radar systems, 2 C-704 launchers, and Farsi instruction manuals explaining how to operate the C-704. Israel believes the vessel, called the Victoria and flying a Liberian flag, was carrying the weaponry from Iran to Hamas, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, which bars Iran from exporting conventional arms. The Victoria is German-owned, and operated by a French shipping company. The Israeli military said the Victoria departed from Syria, stopped in Turkey, and was headed for the port of Alexandria in Egypt when it was intercepted. Turkey and Egypt had no prior knowledge of the cargo’s content, according to the Israeli government. The weaponry is being stored in Israel.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report, 5-7-2011; “List of Weaponry Found on the ‘Victoria,’” Israel Defense Forces, 3-16-2011; Yaakov Katz, “Navy Intercepts Ship With Iranian Arms Bound for Hamas,” The Jerusalem Post, 3-15-2011; “Israeli Navy Intercepts Egypt-Bound Ship With Arms,” Associated Press, 3-15-2011.
British special forces and Afghan troops intercepted an Iranian shipment of 48 122mm rockets and 1,000 rounds of ammunition to the Taliban. According to western diplomats, the cache would have enabled the Taliban to double the range of its attacks (to 12 miles). The rockets were discovered on February 5, 2011, when troops stopped a convoy in Nimruz Province in southwest Afghanistan. Iran’s export of the weaponry violates U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, which bars Iran from exporting conventional arms. British military officials called the shipment evidence of a significant escalation in Tehran’s support for the Taliban.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report, 5-7-2011; Julian Borger & Richard Norton-Taylor, “British Special Forces Seize Iranian Rockets in Afghanistan,” The Guardian, 3-9-2011; Ben Farmer, “SAS Seize Iranian Rockets Destined for Taliban Fighters,” The Telegraph, 3-9-2011.
Mohammad Reza Vaghari was convicted on February 24, 2011 in a U.S. District Court for illegal business transactions with Iran allegedly between 2002 and 2008. Vaghari's co-conspirator, Mir Hossein Ghaemi, pleaded guilty to charges in November 2010. Vaghari and Ghaemi, both Iranian nationals, used their Pennsylvania-based business Saamen Company to purchase goods with military uses from U.S. companies for export to Iran, using Dubai as a transshipment point. Items shipped without required licenses included fuel cell systems, ultrasonic liquid processors, computers, ultrasound machines and other laboratory equipment. Ultimate recipients allegedly included the Pasteur Institute of Iran and Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, both listed in Japanese, German, and British warning lists as entities of concern for biological, chemical or weapons of mass destruction proliferation.
Source: Michael Hinkelman, "Broomall Man Convicted of Selling to Iran Items of Military Use," The Philadelphia Daily News, 2-25-2011; Indictment, U.S. v. Mohammad Reza Vaghari, et al., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Praecipe to Attach Exhibits, Exhibit A (FBI interview transcript), U.S. v. Mohammad Reza Vaghari, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
On 15 February, 2011 Turkish authorities seized a truck carrying explosives en route to Syria from Iran. The interdiction took place in Kilis, a Turkish town near the Syrian border. The truck was carrying gunpowder, propelling charge, slow-burning material, detonators, solid rocket fuel, and RDX explosives. Shipping documents named SAD Import Export Company as the consigner. Parchin Chemical Industries and 7th of Tir Industries were also named in the documents; both have been sanctioned by the United Nations for links to Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. Shipping documents also listed Chemical Industries and Development of Materials Group (CIDMG) as the manufacturer of some of the seized items. CIDMG, a parent company to Parchin Chemical Industries, manufactures propellant and explosives like RDX and HMX. Following an inspection of the cargo, a U.N. Security Council Panel found it to be a violation of Security Council resolution 1747, which prohibits arms exports from Iran.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010),” – Final Report, United Nations Report, 6-12-12.
On February 11, 2011, a British court approved the extradition of retired UK-businessman Christopher Tappin to the United States to face criminal charges for involvement in a plot to illegally export Hawk Air Defense Missile system batteries to Iran via Britain or the Netherlands between 2005 and 2007. Tappin was the subject of a sting operation in 2006 in which he attempted to sell the batteries to undercover U.S. agents. Tappin's co-defendant Robert Gibson pleaded guilty and in August 2007 was sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment, while another co-defendant Robert Caldwell was arrested in Texas in January 2007, found guilty of aiding and abetting the illegal export of defense articles and was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment.
Source: "UK Court OKs Extradition of Iran Plot Suspect," Associated Press, 2-11-2011; Criminal Complaint, U.S. v. Christopher Harold Tappin, et al., U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 1-26-2007 (PDF); Judgment, U.S. v. Robert Frederick Gibson, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 8-24-2007 (PDF); Judgment, U.S. v. Robert Thomas Caldwell, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 11-9-2007 (PDF); Warrant for Arrest, U.S. v. Robert Caldwell, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 2-7-2007 (PDF).
The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions on February 1, 2011 targeting a multi-million dollar procurement network in Iran and Turkey for its direct support of Iran's ballistic missile program. According to Treasury, the network, led by Iranian national Milad Jafari, his brother Mani Jafari, and his father Mohammad Javad Jafari, used companies in Iran and Turkey to obtain specialized metals for subordinates of Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO). AIO oversees Iran's missile work and is a subsidiary of Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. Also sanctioned for their involvement in the Jafari network were Jafari's mother, Mahin Falsafi (who allegedly handled the network's bank accounts at the Export Development Bank of Iran), Turkish nationals Muammer Kuntay Duransoy, and Cagri Duransoy, and the companies Macpar Makina San Ve Tic AS, STEP AS, and Multimat Ltd, all in Istanbul, and Carvana Company and Machine Pardazan Company in Tehran. The indictment against Milad Jafari alleges that, between 2004 and 2007, the network exported or attempted to export welding wire, temperature-resistant stainless steel, Palnicro brazing alloy, bronze bars, and a Keithly digital multimeter to Iranian companies including Sanam Industrial Group, Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), Heavy Metals Industries (HMI), Sahand Aluminum Parts Industrial Company (SAPICO), Alborz Rotating Machines Co., and Electronic Equipment Company.
Source: "Treasury Designates Multi-Million Dollar Procurement Network for Directly Supporting Iran's Missile Program," Press Release, U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2-1-2011; David Lawder, "U.S. sanctions Iranian and Turkish firms for missile aid," Reuters, 2-01-2011; Indictment, U.S. v. Milad Jafari, Case No. CR-10-195, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 7-21-2010.
On December 8, 2010, South Korean officials seized some 300 phosphor bronze wire mesh rolls with potential nuclear uses from a Korean Air Cargo jet at Seoul International Airport. The measurements of these rolls correspond to use in a water distillation column for heavy water production. The mesh rolls arrived from China and were bound for Pentane Chemistry Industries (PCI) in Iran following transshipment in Turkey. The shipment violates several U.N Security Council resolutions that bar Iran from importing items that could contribute to its heavy water-related capability.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report , 5-7-2011; Louis Charbonneau, “Iran Tried to Buy Banned Items From N.Korea –Envoys,” Reuters, 3-22-2011; “Diplomats Say New Iran Weapons Materials Seized,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 3-17-2011.
A federal grand jury indicted Nader Modanlo, a U.S. citizen born in Iran, of brokering the launch of the first Iranian-owned satellite from Russia, in violation of U.S. sanctions. Five others, all Iranian nationals, were also indicted and remain at large. Modanlo, who co-founded the now-bankrupt U.S. satellite telecommunications company Final Analysis, Inc. in the early 1990s, is accused of using his business contacts and aerospace engineering experience to assist Iran in the launch of its first satellite, the Sina-1, in Russia in October 2005. Starting in 2001, Modanlo allegedly coordinated a series of meetings in Moscow between the Russian aerospace outfit Polyot and Iranian government officials, including co-defendants Sirous Naseri (a consultant to the Iranian Foreign Ministry) and Hamid Malmirian (general director of Iran’s National Geographical Organization). According to the indictment, Modanlo’s co-defendants arranged to pay him $10 million for his services by establishing a company named Prospect Telecom in Switzerland, which would launder the funds for the payment.
Source: Indictment, U.S. v. Modanlo, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, 11-10-2010 (PDF); Douglas Birch, “US Space Entrepreneur Accused of Aiding Iran,” Associated Press, 6-27-2011.
The UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that all export licenses to Iran for items included on the European Union list of dual-use goods, along with brokering services and technical or financial assistance related to such items, would now be refused, “except in cases where there is manifestly no risk.” Examples of the dual-use items targeted by BIS include nickel alloy pipes, vacuum pumps, radiation detectors, spectrometers, heat furnaces and specialized gaskets (a complete list of the relevant dual-use materials is published in Annex IV of Council Regulation (EU) 961/2010).
Source: “Iran – Change to Export Licensing Policy of Annex IV Listed Items,” Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Notice to Exporters – 2010/40, 11-10-2010; Jamie Doward, “UK to Restrict Exports to Iran,” The Observer, 11-21-2010.
Philip Bisgrove, the owner of NDT Mart, pleaded guilty to knowingly exporting controlled items to Iran without the required licenses. Between 2007 and 2008, the Lancashire businessman illegally exported to Iran ten shipments of dosimeters and doserate meters, three shipments of MY-2 Electromagnets, and a consignment of radiation detection equipment. The investigation, by UK's HM Revenue and Customs officers, revealed the purchase of dosimeters by the Iranian company Sakht Afzar Farayand Eng Co (SAFCO). The radiation detection equipment was transhipped via Taiwan, but e-mails from Mr. Bisgrove's contact at SAFCO, Peyman Rostami, revealed a discussion about shipping goods through Dubai, Malaysia, and Taiwan to avoid export controls. Bisgrove also paid another company, RSM Motorsport, to receive and ship goods on behalf of NDT Mart. On October 15, 2010, Bisgrove was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to eight months' imprisonment and fined £30,000.
Source: "Business Owner Jailed for Selling Controlled Goods without a License to Iran," Notice to Exporters – 2010/38, United Kingdom Department for Business Innovation & Skills, 10-26-2010; "Businessman Jailed for Selling Radiation Detection Equipment to Iran," Press Release, UK HM Revenue & Customs, 10-15-2010.
On September 30, 2010, aluminum powder from North Korea that could be used to make solid propellant for missiles was seized on a ship in Singapore harbor. This aluminum powder is controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) because its particle size, weight, shape and aluminum content makes it suitable for the production of missile fuel; Iran is barred from importing MTCR-controlled items. The ship, the STX Patraikos, was en route to Bandar Abbas, Iran from Ningbo, China when it was stopped by Singaporean authorities. The shipper was Zhejiang Bainianyin Industry & Trade Co., Ltd., and the listed consignee was Takin Tejarat Omid Iranian.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report, 5-7-2011; Tim Witcher, “Diplomats Say New Iran Weapons Materials Seized,” Agence France-Presse (AFP), 3-17-2011; Louis Charbonneau, “Iran Tried to Buy Banned Items From N.Korea –Envoys,” Reuters, 3-22-2011.
Italian police seized 7 tons of RDX (T4) explosive found on board a cargo ship in the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro on August 28, 2010. The explosives were found aboard the vessel M/S Finland, which flies a Liberian flag, and is owned by a Swiss-Italian shipping company. The shipment appears to have originated in Iran and, according to the cargo’s bill of lading, was headed to Syria. Rahkaran Gham Co. of Tehran was listed as the shipper and Saleh Algaber Trading Co. of Damascus was named as the consignee. The shipment violates U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, which bars Iran from exporting conventional arms.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report, 5-7-2011; “Italian Police Seize Huge Amount of Explosives Headed for Syria,” ABC News, 9-22-2010.
Nigeria intercepted 13 containers of weapons from Iran on July 15, 2010, when they were unloaded in Tin Can Port, Lagos. The weapons, dispatched by Behineh
Trading Co. of Tehran in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, included 240 tons of ammunition (107mm rockets; 60mm, 81mm and 120mm mortar shells; grenades; and rounds of ammunition). French-based shipping company CMA-CGM, which carried the shipment, said a false cargo declaration (which labeled the goods as building materials) was to blame. Israeli defense sources reportedly believe that Nigeria may be a stop on a new smuggling route from Iran to Hamas. While in bond, the cargo’s consignee was changed to The Gambia.
Source: “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report , 5-7-2011; Nick Tattersall, “Weapons Seized in Nigeria Came From Iran: Shipping Co,” Reuters, 10-31-2010.
Update:Additional entities linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force (IRGC-Qods Force) and involved in this illicit transaction have been identified and sanctioned. Behineh Trading Co., Ali Akbar Tabatabaei, and Azim Aghajani were sanctioned by the European Union on December 1, 2011 for their role in "furnishing ammunition from Iran via Nigeria." Esmail Ghani, Ali Abbas Usman Jega, Tabatabaei, Aghajani, and Behineh Trading Co. were added on March 27, 2012 to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. And Behineh Trading Co., Tabatabaei, and Aghajani were sanctioned by the United Nations on April 18, 2012, for violating U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, which prohibits arms exports from Iran.
Source: "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1245/2011 of 1 December 2011, implementing Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran," Official Journal of the European Union, L319/13, 12-2-2011; "Treasury Targets Iranian Arms Shipments," Press Release, U.S. Department of the Treasury, 3-27-2012; Consolidated entity list of the committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1737, United Nations Security Council, 4-18-2012; "UN sanctions against Iranians in arms smuggling," Associated Foreign Press, 4-20-2012.
Mahmoud Yadegari, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen who ran a business in Toronto, was sentenced to 4 years and 3 months' imprisonment after being found guilty, in Canada, of attempting to illegally export U.S.-origin pressure transducers to Iran through Dubai in March 2009. Pressure transducers can be used in gas centrifuge uranium enrichment and are subject to United Nations sanctions on nuclear-related exports to Iran. Yadegari was the first individual in Canada to betried andconvicted for violating a combination of Canadian sanction and export control laws.
Source: "Yadegari Guilty," News Release, Public Prosecution Service of Canada, 7-6-2010; Supplementary Agreed Statement of Facts, Queen v. Mahmoud Yadegari, Ontario Court of Justice; Christopher Kent, Dunniela R. Kaufman, and Olivia Wright, "Recent Developments In Canadian Export Controls/Sanctions Laws," Mondaq, 8-4-2010.
German federal prosecutors charged Iranian citizen Mohsen Afrasiabi, German businessman Heinz Ulrich Kessel, and Iranian-German dual national Bezhad Sahabi with violating an arms embargo against Iran and European Union export restrictions on dual-use materials. The three men were accused of exporting a vacuum sintering furnace to Iran valued at about €850,000 ($1.1 million); such furnaces are required to apply refractory linings to guidance components of long-range missiles. Afrasiabi allegedly sought Sahabi's assistance in obtaining the furnace on behalf of Shahid Hemat Industrial Group (SHIG), the primary procurement agent for Iran's missile program. Kessel's manufacturing company, FCT Systeme GmbH, supplied the furnace to Afrasiabi's company, Emen Survey Engineering Co Teheran, in July 2007. Concealing the actual end-user in his export authorization application, Kessell received notice that no authorization was required; he sent engineers to Iran to install the furnace in 2008. Shortly afterwards, German authorities informed Kessel of Afrasiabi’s ties to Iran’s missile program and the operation was halted before the furnace was ready to use. Afrasiabi was arrested in Germany in October 2009.
Source: Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber), Case C-72/11, Court of Justice of the European Union, 12-21-2011; David Crawford, "Germany charges two over Iran equipment deal," Wall Street Journal, 04-08-2010.
An investigation was triggered when the International Atomic Energy Agency received an e-mail that alleged the shipment of illegal goods to Iran, naming Javedan Mehr Toos (JMT) as the recipient. JMT received valves used on cylinders to transport uranium powder, valves used in the uranium enrichment process, and vacuum gauges. According to the e-mail, JMT acquired the valves from an intermediary named Vikas Kumar Talwar representing Zheijiang Ouhai Trade Corp., a Chinese company that is a subsidiary of Wenzhou-based Jinzhou Group. Vikas Kumar Talwar and Zheijiang Ouhai Trade Corp. have both come up in prior investigations of Iranian efforts to procure nuclear equipment, according to a U.S. law enforcement official. Western officials said JMT has been working since last year to procure nuclear materials on behalf of Kalaye Electric Company and has sought to acquire magnets used in centrifuges during uranium enrichment.
Source: Peter Fritsch and David Crawford, "Iran nuclear ring probed," Wall Street Journal, 4-3-2010.
Italian police arrested two Iranians and five Italians as part of an operation uncovering a ring supplying weapons to Iran from Italy and via third countries. Working with authorities in Britain, Switzerland, and Romania, Italian police said they foiled plans to export tracer bullets, explosives, German-made optical gear, helicopters, and other military hardware. Police were still seeking two more Iranians. The Milan-based arms ring, which operated for at least three years before it was detected, was led by Alessandro Bon, a former sales representative for Beretta, the Italian gun manufacturer. In a tapped phone conversation, Bon was heard informing an associate that several German sniper scopes they had sold to Iran had been found in Afghanistan, where they were used by Taliban forces to fire on German troops. Italy’s Financial Guard identified the ring’s main customer as Bakhtiyari Homayoun, a suspected Iranian intelligence official. A Tehran front company run by Homayoun was one of several firms that operated as an Iranian government procurement network.
Source: Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Roberto Bonzio, "Italy makes arrests for Iran arms trafficking," Reuters, 3-3-2010; Sebastian Rotella, "Iran’s Efforts to Buy Embargoed Arms Revealed in Italian Case," ProPublica, 3-31-2010.
An investigation revealed that in March 2009 Heli-Ocean Technology Co., Ltd., a Taiwanese company, shipped 108 pressure transducers to Iran. The gauges – dual-use items that are essential for centrifuge uranium enrichment, but have other, commercial applications – were ordered from Inficon Holding AG, a Swiss manufacturer. Heli-Ocean serves as Inficon’s agent in Taiwan. The company that placed the order, Roc-Master Manufacture and Supply Company in China, originally asked for delivery of the transducers to its Shanghai location, but then switched course and requested that Heli-Ocean deliver the parts to Moshever Sanat Moaser in Tehran, assuring Heli-Ocean that they were not intended for Iran's nuclear program. Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade investigated the shipment, but determined that it was not an export violation because at the time it occurred the parts involved were not included on Taiwan’s Strategic High-Tech Commodities list.
Source: Peter Enav and Debbie Wu, "How nuclear equipment reached Iran," Associated Press, 2-28-2010; S.Y. Lin and Flor Wang, "BOFT clarifies report on company selling nuclear components to Iran," Central News Agency (CNA) via Ministry of the Interior, moi.gov.tw, 12-18-2009.
Yi-Lan Chen, a.k.a. Kevin Chen, of Taiwan, was arrested in Guam on charges of illegally exporting dual-use components to Iran. According to the complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida, customers affiliated with Iran’s missile program sent orders by e-mail to Chen. Chen then requested quotes from U.S. businesses and made arrangements for the sale or shipment of the goods to one of several freight forwarders in Hong Kong. These freight forwarders, which included Acteam Logistics Ltd. and Tex-Co Logistics Ltd., then sent the items on to Iran. Chen allegedly also used his own companies in Taiwan, In-Tech Company and Landstar Tech Co. Ltd., to facilitate several of the transactions. Among Chen’s customers were buyers for Electro SANAM Industries, which serves as a front company for Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) in Iran and has been linked to Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Another Iranian customer was the owner of Noavaran Sooyab Sanat, Co., a division of Jahad Engineering Research Center, which has been listed as an entity of concern by the British government for procurement related to weapons of mass destruction. Among the dual-use items that Chen allegedly shipped to Iran were P200 turbine engines, which can be used in unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as MIL-S-8516 sealing compound, glass-to-metal pin seals, and circular hermetic connectors.
Source: "Taiwan Exporter Arrested and Charged with Exporting Missile Components from the U.S. to Iran," Press Release, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida, 2-4-2010; Affidavit attached to Criminal Complaint, U.S. v. Yi-Lan Chen, Case No. 10-2098-White, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (PDF).
Update: Chen and Landstar Tech pleaded guilty, on May 13, 2010. On August 27, 2010, Chen was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment while Landstar Tech was sentenced to one year of probation.
Source: "Taiwan Exporter Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Export Missile Components from the U.S. to Iran," Press Release, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, 5-13-2010; Judgment in a Criminal Case, U.S. v. Yi-Lan Chen, 8-20-2010, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (PDF); Judgment in a Criminal Case, U.S. v. Lanstar Tech Company, Ltd., 10-29-2010, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (PDF).
Three men were charged in connection with a conspiracy involving the illegal exportation and smuggling of specialized vacuum pump equipment with nuclear applications from the United States to Iran. Among the suspects was Jirair Avanessian, an Iranian-born chemical engineer living in Glendale, California, where he owned and operated an import-export company called XVAC. Another suspect in the case, an Iranian named Amirhossein Sairafi, was arrested by German authorities. A third conspirator, Farhad Masoumian, also Iranian, remains at large. According to the indictment, Avanessian received orders from Masoumian for certain items sought by individuals in Iran. Avanessian then purchased the vacuum pumps and related equipment in the United States and exported it to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), falsifying shipping documentation to disguise the nature and ultimate destination of the cargo. Sairafi received the goods in the UAE and re-shipped them to Iran, while Masoumian transferred several hundred thousand dollars to Avanessian’s U.S. bank account.
Source: "Glendale Resident and Two Iranian Men Charged in Scheme to Illegally Export Technology to Iran without a License," Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles, 1-13-2010; Scott Glover, "Parts sent to Iran could be used for nuclear weapons development," Los Angeles Times, 1-14-2010.
Update: Avanessian was arrested in January 2010, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on July 6, 2011. Sairafi was extradited from Germany to the United States, pleaded guilty to the charges and, on March 7, 2011, was sentenced to 41 months' imprisonment.
Source: Arrest on Indictment, U.S. v. Jirair Avanessian, 1-11-2010, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (PDF); Change of Plea, U.S. v. Jirair Avanessian, 7-16-2010, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (PDF); "Summary of Major U.S. Export Enforcement and Embargo Prosecutions: 2007 to the Present" Press Release, U.S. Department of Justice, March 2011, p. 9; Amended Judgment and Probation/Commitment Order, U.S. v. Amirhossein Sairafi, 3-7-2011, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (PDF).
A cargo plane carrying weapons from North Korea was impounded and searched by authorities in Thailand. The Ilyushin 76 transport plane was found to be carrying 35 tons of explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, and surface-to-air missile components, in violation of a U.N. arms embargo against North Korea. According to a Thai Air Force spokesman, the chartered plane began its flight in Pyongyang, and requested to land at Don Muang airport in Thailand to refuel. Documents allegedly connected with the flight show that it was bound for Iran, and that its cargo had been falsely listed as “oil industry spare parts,” with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) listed as the consignee; Korea Mechanical Industry Co. was named as the shipper. Ownership and operation of the Ilyushin 76 aircraft appears to be hidden in a complex web of holding companies: it is registered in the country of Georgia; it is owned by Overseas Cargo FZE, a company in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; it is operated by Air West, a Georgian company, which in November 2009 leased the aircraft to a company registered in New Zealand, SP Trading Limited; SP Trading then chartered the aircraft to a Hong Kong-based company, Union Top Management Ltd., in early December 2009; the aircraft was seized by Thai authorities on December 12, 2009.
Source: Jane Fugal, "Crew of NKorean Weapons Plane in Thai Court," Associated Press, 12-13-2009; “From deceit to discovery: The strange flight of 4L-AWA,” Sergio Finardi, Brian Johnson-Thomas, and Peter Danssaert, International Peace Information Service (IPIS), 12-21-2009; Thomas Fuller and Choe Sang-Hun, "Thais Say North Korea Arms Were Iran-Bound," New York Times, 1-31-2010; “From deceit to discovery: The strange flight of 4L-AWA – an update,” International Peace Information Service (IPIS), 2-8-2010.
Criminal indictments were unsealed in Delaware and Massachusetts relating to the prosecution of Iranian arms procurement agent Amir Hossein Ardebili. In May 2008, Ardebili pled guilty to multiple violations of the Arms Export Control Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, smuggling, conspiracy and money laundering. He was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2009. Ardebili was living in Iran and working as an arms acquisitions agent for the government of Iran. He was arrested on October 2, 2007 in the country of Georgia in an undercover sting operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents following a three year investigation; he was secretly extradited to the U.S. in January 2008. During the investigation, Ardebili negotiated the purchase and illegal export of a number of military components, including: QRS-11 Gyro Chip Sensors, which are used in advanced aircraft, missile, space and commercial applications; MAPCGM0003 Phase Shifters, which can be used in missile guidance systems; and a Digital Air Data Computer, which is a replacement for the computer that calculates flight parameters on U.S. F-4 fighter aircraft used by Iran.
Source: "Iranian arms procurement agent sentenced to 60 months imprisonment," Press Release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security, 12-14-2009; John Shiffman, "Iranian arms dealer, extradited in ’07, secretly jailed in Phila," Philadelphia Inquirer, 12-2-2009.
On November 11, 2009, the Israeli military released documentary evidence tying the arms cargo of the "Francop," a vessel seized by Israel's navy off the coast of Cyprus, to Iran. The merchant ship was flying the Antigua flag and was heading to the Syrian port of Latakia. Released documents included: a manifest indicating it was handled by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL); a container labeling that showed the ship originated in Isfahan, Iran; pictures that showed "IRISL" stenciled on the containers' sides and "Ministry of Sepah"-labeled boxes; and a customs form stamped by Iran's armed forces. Polyethylene pellets found in the containers had markings indicating they were produced by Iran's National Petrochemical Co. Israel said the ship was carrying 500 tons of Iranian-made weapons for Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, including 20,000 grenades, 9,000 mortar rounds, 3,000 anti-tank shells, 3,000 Katyusha rockets, and more than 500,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. Iran and Hezbollah denied Israel's claims.
Source: "Documented proof of Iranian complicity in arms smuggling to terrorists," Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 11-11-2009; Aron Heller, "Israel Shows Documents It Says Link Iran to Arms," Associated Press, 11-11-2009.
U.S. troops boarded the German-owned freighter "Hansa India" in the Gulf of Suez in early October and discovered eight containers of ammunition and parts suitable for Kalashnikov rifles. The containers were secured when the ship arrived in Malta. The arms were found in barrels marked “Sazemane Senaye Defa,” the Farsi name for Defense Industries Organization (DIO), an entity designated under U.N. Security Council resolution 1737 for its involvement in Iran’s nuclear program. The ship’s manifest showed that the cargo was being transferred from Iran to Syria in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, which bars Iran from exporting arms. The Hansa India is registered to the Hamburg-based shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg, though it has been under charter to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) for years. A notice issued by the Security Council committee charged with overseeing sanctions implementation called on countries to exercise “extreme vigilance” over IRISL activities, including by “subjecting its cargo to enhanced scrutiny.”
Source: “German Ship Transporting Arms For Iran,” Spiegel Online, 10-12-2009; “Implementation Assistance Notice #2: Hansa India,” U.N. Security Council, 1-20-2010; “Briefing by the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006),” U.N. Security Council, 3-4-2010.
Britain has frozen business with two Iranian entities, Bank Mellat and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), because they have supported Iran's missile and nuclear programs. These restrictions were implemented by Her Majesty's Treasury under the Counter-Terrorism Act of 2008. Both entities have already been sanctioned by the United States, and in August 2008 the European Union adopted new restrictions that included a call for E.U. countries to inspect suspicious air and sea cargo to and from Iran, particularly shipments involving IRISL and Iran Air Cargo. At the same time, requirements for additional pre-arrival and pre-departure information were also instituted for all goods brought into the European Union on cargo aircraft or vessels owned or controlled by Iran Air Cargo and IRISL.
Source: Keith Weir, “UK Halts Business with Iran Firms on Nuclear Fears,” Reuters, 10-12-2009; “Council Common Position 2008/652/CFSP amending Common Position 2007/140/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran,” Press Release, Council of the European Union, 8-8-2008.
On July 22, 2009, the United Arab Emirates seized 10 containers of North Korean military supplies labeled as oil boring machine parts on a freighter bound for Iran. Among the components reportedly taken were 2,030 detonators for short-range rockets, electric circuitry and solid-fuel propellant. The freighter, a CMA-CGM-owned vessel flying a Bahamian flag called the ANL Australia, took on the cargo in Shanghai before departing for Dubai. According to shipping records, the materials were ferried to Shanghai by a Chinese ship from the port of Dalian, where a North Korean vessel out of Nampo had left them two days earlier. The shipment was in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, which bars Iran from importing conventional arms.
Source: “Report to the Security Council from the Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1874 (2009),” United Nations Report, 5-3-2011; Masahiko Asada, “Implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874,” United Nations Presentation, 5-3-11; Joby Warrick, “Arms Smuggling Heightens Iran Fears,” The Washington Post, 12-3-2009.
Some of the developments include links to pages outside Iran Watch; the Wisconsin Project takes no responsibility for the content of those external pages.