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Bonyads and Iranian sanctions evasion

June 27, 2010

During a 2006 hearing in Congress on energy and the Iranian economy, Dr. Kenneth Katzman, a specialist on the Middle East, summed up a major problem with the bonyads, the Iranian charitable foundations we described in the last post:

The most controversial allegation about the bonyads has been whether or not their funds have been used to procure weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technology.  This allegation has long surrounded the largest bonyad, the Foundation for the Oppressed and Disabled, primarily because this bonyad has been run by hardliners and former officials of the Revolutionary Guard (example, Mohsen Rafiq-Dust, a former Minister of the Revolutionary Guard).  The theory underlying the allegation is that the bonyads, because they are not formally part of Iran’s government, can operate outside official scrutiny of foreign governments, and could therefore illicitly procure equipment that might not be approved for export to Iran.  During an official visit to Dubai in 1995, observers at the US consulate there told me that Foundation employees were present in significant numbers in Dubai, holding large quantities of cash which they were using to procure technology from Russia and other arms and technology brokers in the emirate…

Did somebody mention Iranian “technology” procurement from Russia?  More on that tomorrow.

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