Posts Tagged ‘WMD’

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While Syria uses nerve gas, Iran buys uranium

September 3, 2013

The Iranian appetite for weapons of mass destruction seems to be shared by their Alawite catspaw in Syria.  While Bashar al-Assad, the butcher of Damascus, has been busy gassing civilians with sarin, the leadership of Iran has been in secret negotiations to buy additional uranium for their nuclear program from Zimbabwe.

The deal has been struck, notes Global Security Newswire “despite international sanctions,” which appear to be woefully ineffective in achieving Iranian disarmament.  Read it all:

Alleged Iranian Uranium Deal With Zimbabwe May Revive Sanctions Debate

Aug. 21, 2013

By Diane Barnes

WASHINGTON — An alleged clandestine deal in which Zimbabwe might sell sensitive nuclear material to Iran could revive debate over the Persian Gulf nation’s ability to import uranium ore, despite international sanctions.

Zimbabwe’s government took pains last week to deny allegations that it was secretly preparing to supply Iran with unrefined uranium, going so far as to hunt down a journalist who had reported the story and to demand a confession that he had fabricated substantiating comments from a government official.

Some analysts, though, say the southern African nation has parsed its denials, leaving open the possibility of backtracking later on, should it ever decide to sell uranium ore to the suspected nuclear arms aspirant.

The Times of London on Aug. 10 quoted a senior official in Zimbabwe’s mining ministry describing a memorandum of understanding “to export uranium to the Iranians.”

The article’s headline describes the understanding as a “secret deal.” Paraphrasing the official, the newspaper said the arrangement was known by “only a handful of people at the top of Zimbabwe’s government.”

If true, the planned transfer of the sensitive material could potentially violate international sanctions against Iran. Washington and its allies contend the Persian Gulf nation has flouted its U.N. atomic safeguards agreement and previously hidden military efforts aimed at ultimately developing nuclear warheads…

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Backstabbed: How Iraq helps Iran skirt sanctions

April 11, 2013

Nobody has been as good at tracking the painful truth of Iraqi-facilitated evasion of international sanctions on Iran as financial crime consultant Kenneth Rijock.  Consider:

  • The Kurds in northern Iraq have “allowed both rampant money laundering, and widespread facilitation of global Iran sanctions evasion” though their banks. In central Iraq, U.S. dollars are flowing in bulk from Baghdad to Iranmore>>
  • Lebanese banks and Bank Melli, a sanctioned Iranian bank, are operating in northern Iraq.  EU and North American businesses that use Lebanese banks may not be taking sufficient steps to prevent their transactions from benefiting Iranian end-users… more>>
  • “Iraq blatantly disregards UN sanctions on Iran” in accepting an Iranian-flagged vessel‘s shipment at its Um Qasr port, for example… more>>
  • Five Turkish banks in Iraq may be facilitating Iran’s sanction dodging behavior… more>>
  • Iran will reap $16 billion annually from a new natural gas deal with Iraq… more>>

Reading about the dangerous anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) policies of Iraq may be upsetting to those who have made personal sacrifices fighting for Iraqi freedom, but we have to face the current facts.  How does Rijock describe the Iraq invasion?  “Military success, yes; but AML/CFT utter failure.”

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Money laundering expert accuses Venezuela of massive uranium exports to Iran

January 16, 2013

One of Money Jihad‘s favorites, the Financial Crimes Blog by Kenneth Rijock, is making a disturbing allegation:  that Venezuela is illegally exporting massive amounts of uranium for Iran’s nuclear program, and that U.S. officials have rejected the evidence.  The “reliable sources” aren’t named and the “irrefutable, documentary evidence” isn’t specified, so take it with a grain of salt, but Mr. Rijock has proved to be very insightful and prescient before.

From Jan. 10:

US POINTEDLY IGNORES VENEZUELAN URANIUM EXPORTS

The United States, for reasons not known to this writer, appears to be deliberately ignoring the mounting indications of massive exports of Uranium, from Venezuela, to its end user, the Government of Iran. Reliable sources have confirmed that irrefutable, documentary evidence of same, from unimpeachable sources, has been politely declined when offered. America opposes Iran’s WMD programme, somebody has chosen to ignore the truth, when  it comes from Venezuela.

Given that close monitoring of Iran’s developing illegal Weapons of Mass Destruction programme has become an American obsession, I am baffled as to why actionable intelligence, regarding these outbound shipments is of no interest to America’s intelligence community. Vessels laden with Uranium  are leaving Venezuela’s Caribbean ports, steaming direct to Iran with their illicit cargo…

There’s a little more to the full post including Rijock’s speculation on the reason for the U.S.’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil attitude here.

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Export violation: business evades sanctions by creating a Turkish shell company to sell machines to Iran for nuclear program

December 4, 2012

Spanish tax authorities raid Basque company, seize documents

A Durango manufacturer, Ona Electroerosión, has violated Spanish customs laws by smuggling dual-use technology to Iran, according to official reports.

Ona has denied the charges, saying that it sought two permits for sales of machinery to Iran in 2009.  One permit was approved; one, denied.  Ona says it cancelled the sale to Iran for the permit that was denied, and maintains that the machinery it sold to another client in Turkey was among the simplest pieces of equipment in their catalog.

This version of events described by Ona not seem plausible.  Why continue trying to sell the same equipment that Spanish officials prohibited for Iran to to a firm in Turkey—-Iran’s next door neighbor and one of Iran’s closest trade partners?

European companies have long been active in Iran, but we’re not talking about selling a Peugeot.  This is machinery used to make fans that Spanish authorities believe will be used in Iran’s nuclear operations.

The results of the raid have not been made public yet.  Presumably, the company will face a multi-million dollar fine at a minimum.  If the allegation is true that Ona Electroerosión was determined to deliver the goods to Iran to the point of using a front company to facilitate the sale, then it is not just guilty of gross negligence in its export compliance program.  Under that circumstance, arrests and criminal prosecution of Ona’s senior management is justified.

Here’s one of the more precise news reports on the scandal.  From Reuters via CNBC on Nov. 26:

Spanish company embroiled in nuclear smuggling scheme with Iran

BILBAO (Reuters) – A company from Spain’s Basque country smuggled machinery to Iran for likely use in the country’s nuclear program through an elaborate scheme involving a shell company in Turkey, Spanish tax authorities said on Monday.

Spain’s tax agency said the company had managed to send over seven machines designed to make parts for turbines used in energy plants, in a scheme that violated United Nations security council sanctions against Iran.

A source close to the operation named the company involved as ONA Electroerosion.

The machines, sold for nearly 1 million euros ($1.30 million), were destined for use in Iran’s nuclear development program, according to the agency’s investigations to date.

The U.N., the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt nuclear enrichment, which Western powers fear is part of a plan to amass the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran argues its atomic work is for use in medicine and generating electricity.

The company, based in the Basque municipality of Durango, had been denied a license to export seven fan-manufacturing machines to Iran in September 2009, precisely because of fears they could be used in the nuclear program.

But it later duped Spanish customs by using an intermediary company set up in Turkey by its Iranian business partner, and shipped the machinery to Istanbul before dispatching it to Tehran.

Spain’s tax agency said it had raided the company’s premises on November 13, removing documents and other information it was still analyzing.

Its operation, dubbed “Kakum”, began earlier this year, when it became suspicious of the company’s activities.

No one has yet been arrested or charged in relation to the scheme, the agency said, though added those responsible could face prison sentences and a fine of close to 6 million euros.

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Jorisch: blacklist the bonyads

June 28, 2012

Bonyads, the supposedly charitable conglomerates of Iran, are finally getting some international scrutiny.  Security analyst Avi Jorisch has called for a new phase in the sanctions regime against Iran:  targeting the bonyads:

Bonyads are tax-exempt Iranian charitable trusts that control an estimated 20–40% of Iran’s GDP. Subsidized by the government, they answer only to Iran’s Supreme Leader. Bonyads represent an important target for sanctions because they control such a large share of Iran’s economy.

As charities, they supposedly provide social services to the poor and the needy, but in fact, they are also involved in every major industry, including soybean and cotton production, hotel administration, soft drink firms, shipping line ownership and car manufacturing.

The United States should publicly name, shame, and blacklist all major bonyads, thus making it illegal to make a charitable contribution to them.

The United States and its allies have all the tools necessary to punish the banks, corporations and charities helping Iran achieve nuclearization. If we are truly going to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, we must use as many of the bows in our quiver as possible.

Indeed, loopholes in the current sanctions regime probably do allow for donations to the bonyads under the guise of food and medical aid.

Money Jihad readers may recall that bonyads have also been described as “massive semi-government foundations with vast religious and philanthropic missions [which] have metamorphosed into huge holding companies that dominate the trade and manufacturing sectors while evading competition, taxes and state regulations,” and about which “analysts agree that the scant supervision has encouraged inefficiencies, mismanagement, and embezzlement,” and it has been asked whether “their funds have been used to procure weapons of mass destruction.”

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2011: Iran’s nuclear march unfazed by sanctions

January 10, 2012

In its November report, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that:

  • The Iranian military has procured nuclear and dual-use material and equipment
  • Iran has acquired information on how to create nuclear weapons through a secret network
  • Iran has tested nuclear weapon components

The advance in Iranian efforts to use nuclear program for military purposes strongly suggests that the sanctions regime is not having the impact necessary to stop their acquisition of the bomb.  Sanctions may have damaged their economy and currency, but that is irrelevant because Iran has shown that it will continue funding its nuclear program regardless of economic conditions.

Pres. Obama’s decision to appoint lightweight David Cohen as undersecretary of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence indicated a lack of seriousness about enforcing serious sanctions against Iran to bankrupt its nuclear program.  In 2011, Cohen has succeeded mostly in alienating the U.S. Senate by stabbing New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez in the back.  If only we would treat our foreign enemies that way.

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Democrat to Europe: Prove it isn’t Iran crude

November 4, 2011

During an Oct. 13 hearing on Iran sanctions, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) described his proposal to make the European Union certify that any refined fuel products it sells to the United States did not originate from Iranian crude oil.

The concern of the power establishment is that an outright embargo on Iranian crude would limit global supply, damage the fragile economic recovery, and ultimately enrich Iran through soaring oil prices.  But the current sanctions regime hasn’t done much to deter or delay Iran from acquiring the hydrogen bomb.  Sen. Menendez’s proposal is an effort to split the difference, and get Europe to do the legwork of finding alternate suppliers to Iranian crude.  In a question to a State Department flunky (to which he later received a boilerplate answer), Menendez explains his reasoning:

The full two hour hearing can be viewed on C-SPAN’s website.

Perhaps Europe can explore for oil off the shores of America where environmentalists won’t let the U.S. do it, refine it, and sell it back to the U.S. as a certified non-Iranian product.  Or the U.S. could expand its own oil production and cut out all the middlemen.  Just saying…