Procurement: Chip Smugglers Clipped


November 2,2008: British and American police have broken up an eight man smuggling operation that got 30,000 electronic components to Iran, illegally, over the last five years. The men were first identified three years ago when U.S. Army investigators, going over the scene of a bombing in Iraq, found that the weapon was built using American made electronics. Serial numbers of components were found, and traced back to the smuggling ring. The two leaders of the operation are Britons of Iranian ancestry. One was arrested in London, the other was not found at his apartment in Dubai, and may have fled to Iran.

The electronic components that were smuggled are dual (civilian and military) use, and require a special export permit before they can be sent to Iran. While Iran manufactures many simple weapons, it has no electronics industry to speak of, and must import most components. Some of these items are only available from the United States, or America is the largest supplier. But Iran is under several embargos that prevent many weapons related items from being legally sent there.

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 failed, to procure forbidden goods. The smuggling operations is currently under more scrutiny, and attack, because of Iran's growing nuclear weapons program.



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