Friday, January 16, 2009

Fresh Evidence Of Iran's Ramped Up Quest For Nukes

Not that any of my regular readers need it, but a whole slew of new evidence has recently surfaced about recent efforts by Iran to evade sanctions and acquire metals from China used to make long-range nuclear missiles and other high tech weaponry...and their use of European banks to finance the transactions.
From the Wall Street Journal:

Iran's efforts are detailed in a series of recent emails and letters between Iranian companies and foreign suppliers seen by The Wall Street Journal. Business records show one Iranian company, ABAN Commercial & Industrial Ltd., has contracted through an intermediary for more than 30,000 kilograms (about 66,000 pounds) of tungsten copper -- which can be used in missile guidance systems -- from Advanced Technology & Materials Co. Ltd. of Beijing. One March 2008 email between the firms mentions shipping 215 ingots, with more planned.

The United Arab Emirates has informed the U.S. that in September it intercepted a Chinese shipment headed to Iran of specialized aluminum sheets that can be used to make ballistic missiles. A month earlier, UAE officials also intercepted an Iran-bound shipment of titanium sheets that can be used in long-range missiles, according to a recent letter to the U.S. Commerce Department from the UAE's Washington ambassador.

Evidence of Iran's efforts to acquire sensitive materials also is emerging from investigations by state and federal prosecutors in New York into whether a number of major Western banks illegally handled funds for Iran and deliberately hid Iranian transactions routed through the U.S. One focus of the inquiries is the role of Italy, including the Rome branch of Iran's Bank Sepah and Italy's Banca Intesa Sanpaolo Spa. Banca Intesa said it is cooperating in the inquiries.


U.S. and European governments have grown increasingly alarmed in recent months at the speed they believe Iran is developing ballistic-missile and nuclear capabilities. Last year the United Nations Security Council, which includes China, formally imposed sanctions on Iran's military and most of its banks for nuclear proliferation activities.

As the article reveals, the Chinese have been evading the sanctions by using deliberately created loopholes in the UN sanctions resolutions...for instance, the powdered form of tungsten copper is prohibited by the accords China agreed to adhere to, but tungsten copper ingots aren't banned, even though they're essentially the same material in a slightly different form that can be easily configured to make missiles just as the powdered form can.

European banks are apparently taking the same laissez-faire attitude when it comes to financing the mullah's nuclear programs:

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said he is conducting a broad inquiry into illegal transactions by Iran. Last week, Lloyds TSB of London agreed to pay $350 million to settle U.S. sanctions-busting charges with Mr. Morgenthau's office and the Justice Department. The bank admitted it violated U.S. law but said the practice has ceased.

"There are nine other banks that we think were doing this," said Mr. Morgenthau in an interview, including Barclays PLC of the U.K. A Barclays spokesman had no comment beyond a prior disclosure confirming the inquiry. Other banks under scrutiny in the probe include Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, people with knowledge of the inquiries said. Credit Suisse "is cooperating with the New York County District Attorney's Office, the U.S. Department of Justice and other governmental authorities," the bank said in a statement. A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to comment.

The current occupant of the White House had a few things to say about making tough decisions to 'keep us safe' in his farewell address last night.

It's obvious to me that he punted on one of the biggest ones.

No comments: