Procurement: Iran Uses Asylum To Spur Smuggling


June 9, 2009: Britain recently convicted three Iranians (Nitish Jaitha, Mohsen Akhavan Nik and Mohammed Akhavan Nik) of illegally sending military equipment to Iran. Two of the men had fled Iran in 1995 and were granted asylum by Britain. Ten years later, Iran agents approached the three to get involved in the weapons smuggling effort. They used false documents to buy military equipment in the U.S. and Britain, and export it to Iran. These smugglers received over a million dollars for their efforts, which did succeed in getting some aircraft and weapon parts into Iran.

Ever since the U.S. embargo was imposed in 1979 (after Iran broke diplomatic protocol by seizing the American embassy), Iran has sought, with some success, to offer big money to smugglers who can beat the embargo and get needed industrial and military equipment. This is a risky business, and American and European prisons are full of Iranians, and other nationals, who tried, and often failed, to procure forbidden goods. The smuggling operations are currently under more scrutiny, and attack, because of Iran's growing nuclear weapons program. But the Iranians simply offer more money, and more smugglers step up to keep the goodies coming.