News Briefs

May 17, 2011
A San Diego federal grand jury indicted two Belgians, Willy A.E. De Greef, 70, and Frederic Roland Nicholas Depelchin, 39, for obtaining aircraft and helicopter parts from U.S. suppliers and transferring them to 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. De Greef was arrested in London, but Depelchin is still at large.
-- San Diego Union-Tribune
May 15, 2011
According to a leaked U.N. report, Iran and North Korea have regularly exchanged ballistic missile technology in violation of sanctions on both countries. Restricted missile-related items were suspected to have been shipped by air on regular scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air. According to several diplomats, China was used as a transhipment point for some of these shipments, and Chinese diplomats, objecting to the report, are likely to prevent its official release by the U.N. Security Council.
-- Reuters
May 10, 2011
A United Nations panel found that sanctions have slowed Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. While Iran continues to use front companies and other methods to circumvent sanctions and obtained restricted items and conventional weapons, it has become more difficult for Iranian programs to obtain nuclear and missile-related items. In response, according to the report, Tehran is increasingly seeking technologies that are not restricted by sanctions but which would allow Iran to improve its indigenous production of controlled items.
-- Associated Press
May 10, 2011
Atomstroyexport, Russia's state-owned nuclear company, announced that the Bushehr reactor had begun operating at a low power level. The plant had been scheduled to go online earlier in 2011, but had been delayed due to technical difficulties.
-- Reuters
April 11, 2011
Iran has successfully tested two advanced centrifuges (the IR2-M and the IR-4) at its Natanz enrichment plant, according to the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi. Abbasi said these centrifuge models were ready for use. If these new centrifuges perform well, and if they can be deployed in sufficient numbers, Iran could produce about six times more enriched uranium per machine than is produced by the IR-1 centrifuges currently in use, according to a former head of safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
-- Washington Post
April 9, 2011
Iran’s foreign minister confirmed allegations made by an exiled Iranian opposition group in Washington that the TABA facility, a factory west of Tehran, was producing centrifuge parts, including centrifuge casings, molecular pumps, tubes and bellows.
-- Associated Press
April 8, 2011
Atomstroyexport, the Russian state-run company that built the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Iran, announced that nuclear fuel was being loaded back into the reactor following the examination and cleansing of pipes and fuel assemblies. The fuel was removed from the reactor for safety concerns in February, when broken pumps sent small pieces of metal into the cooling system.
-- Reuters
March 29, 2011
The U.S. State Department imposed sanctions on Belarusneft, a state-owned energy company in Belarus, pursuant to a U.S. law that mandates sanctions on foreign companies investing more than $20 million in Iran’s oil and gas sector. Belarusneft, the second company to be sanctioned by the Obama administration under this law, invested $500 million in a contract with Naftiran Intertrade Company. The sanctions ban Belarusneft from obtaining U.S. export licenses, loans, and government contracts.
-- Associated Press
March 23, 2011
Three people were arrested in connection with a U.S. federal indictment charging four Colombian family members with illegally attempting to export 22 F-5 fighter jet engines to Iran. Amparo Echeverry Valdes, Carlos Alfredo Pantoja, and Diego Echeverry are being detained in Florida, while Felipe Echeverry is 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.
-- Agence France-Presse
March 17, 2011
Malaysian officials seized two containers from a ship from China that was bound for Iran. Police intercepted the cargo while the Malaysian-registered vessel was at anchor in Port Klang. The containers carried disassembled equipment that is restricted under U.N. Security Council resolutions. According to Malaysian press reports, the seized parts could be used to make nuclear weapons.
-- Free Malaysia Today