– Cargo transport networks into Iran are convoluted and sophisticated ones that facilitate the delivery of dual use equipment, parts and materials into Iran via land, air and sea.
– These networks vital for Iran’s ability to obtain parts, machines and materials for its nuclear and missilery projects as well as its sanctioned energy sector.
– Turkey is a particularly critical link in the supply chain to Iran since it serves as the staging area for cargo coming in vial land, air & sea. Therefore, companies like Tufekci which is at the center of this report, serve as a critical junction for various cargo networks into Iran.
Despite debilitating sanctions, Iran still manages to export and import goods fairly easily. As this report shows, transporting goods to and from Iran is done through a fairly complex web of companies and agents. This transport network consists of a web of shipping companies and agents placed in strategic points throughout the shipping route, namely: Bulgaria, Turkey and the UAE. This complex web ensures that cargo imported into Iran, including dual use equipment, without any ability to track the identity of the procurer and the final destination of the cargo. While this report focuses on the business network of one specific company, “Tüfekçi Transport and Logistics” (Tüfekçi Trans ve Lojistik), it is representative of the convoluted manner by which the dual use machinery, parts and materials can make their way, undetected, into Iran.
Tufekci (pronounced Tufekchi), is a Turkish transport company that was established in the late 1990s and offers various transport services and solutions to and from Iran (particularly from Europe) as well as to other countries such as: Turkmenistan, Georgia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. Among the services the company offers in its service of the Iranian market are: land, sea and air transport services, overseas customs clearance services, letter of credit (LC), transport Storage, packaging, document exchange and internal transport, transit and port services inside Iran. In addition to Europe, Tufekci transports goods from the USA and Canada (see picture below).
Transport Routes and Dual Use Equipment
While it is difficult to trace the Iranian entities that purchase the cargo hauled by Tufekci, or track down the manner by which the order it processed (i.e. do they do so directly or via agents\shell companies), there is no doubt that Tufekci is a pivotal link in the Iranian chain of supply. Tufekci transfers a wide range of cargo to Iran, including chemicals. Ranging from industrial machinery, heavy machinery, luxury cars, chemicals and more. As the pictures below prove, this also includes the purchase of dual-use machinery, including CNC machines which play an essential part in the Iranian missilery project.
Amada CNC machine from Denmark to Asaluyeh:
Chimec Spa products shipped to Iran. Chimec is an Italian company that specializes in chemicals and technologies for the E&P, Refining and Petrochemical industries:
Delivery of heavy machinery from Canada:
Heavy Machinery from the UK:
Tufekci’s main entry and exit point to and from Iran is via the land route. The Company owns warehouses in Istanbul and Bulgaria (in Sofia and Plovdiv). The warehouses that are located in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, are particularly important since Plovdiv houses a customs area for cargo coming in and out the EU. According to the LinkedIn page of Günay Bilgin, an accountant in Tufekci’s subsidiary that deals directly with Iran, the Company groups all its shipments to Iran in a warehouse in Bulgaria located near the customs area in Plovdiv. From there, twice a week, cargo is hauled into the warehouse in Turkey and from there into Iran.
Tufekci’s air route also involves land-transport into Iran. Once cargo arrives to Turkey and is probably housed in Tufekci’s warehouses in Istanbul, it is transported by land into Iran. Cargo that arrives by sea is transferred, via land to Iran from two ports. Cargo that is shipped from Canada and the USA typically arrives at Turkey and from there it is transferred into Iran. Cargo arriving from European ports (for example, Barcelona or the port of Batumi in Georgia), are transferred into Iran via Turkey.
Tufekci key personnel in Turkey and Iran:
|CEO and Founder||x|
|Taner Tufekci||Partner||Also owns another transport company called “Eco Dış Ticaret Şirket” (Eco Foreign Trade Company).|
|CEO and Founder||x|
|Zafer Tufekci||Logistics manager at Tufekci, in charge of all operations outside of Turkey. In addition, Gamze is also the manager of “Tüfekçi Fuarcilik Organizasyon Uluslararasi Nakliyat Gida Diş Tic. San. Ve Tic. LTD. Şti” – Tufekci’s subsidiary that deals directly with Iran.||x|
|Günay Bilgin||Accountant at “Tüfekçi Fuarcilik Organizasyon Uluslararasi Nakliyat Gida Diş Tic. San. Ve Tic. LTD. Şti”||x|
|Turkey operations manager.||x|
|Abdallah Jahanshahi||Manages Tufekci’s Iranian Branch – “Tüfekçi Fuarcilik Organizasyon Uluslararasi Nakliyat Gida Diş Tic. San. Ve Tic. LTD. Şti”||x|
The Iranian Part of the Equation
As shown in the table above, Tufekci’s subsidiary, “Tüfekçi Fuarcilik Organizasyon Uluslararasi Nakliyat Gida Diş Tic. San. Ve Tic. LTD. Şti”, seems to be the corporate entity that directly handles all of the company’s affairs with Iran. According to Tufekci’s “Contact” page, they have an Iranian branch called “Bazargan” (after the name of the street). Curiously enough, if one were to scroll down to the map that denotes the location of Tufekci’s various branches, he would see that the Iranian branch marked on the map has a different name than the one mentioned before – a company called “Khayyam Tarabar Shipping Company.” See the pictures below, the contact page showing the details of both the Bazargan office and those of Khayyam Tarbar.
Once we delved deeper into the entities behind the Bazargan office and Khayyam Tarabar, we found a network of companies that serve as Tufekci’s internal transport partners within Iran. Moreover, Tufekci also serves as a buffer for these companies, allowing them to import and export cargo with relative ease and thus also supply various bad elements in Iran with much needed parts and equipment manufactured in the US and Europe.
Tufekci’s official Iranian branch was established in November 2016 under the name of “Tüfekçi Fuarcilik Organizasyon Uluslararasi Nakliyat Gida Diş Tic. San. Ve Tic. LTD. Şti” According to Iranian records, the branch’s manager is listed as Abdallah Jahanshahi. (though the address is different than the one that appears in Tufekci’s website). Jahanshahi is also affiliated with two other transport companies who share not only the same address but also board members (in addition to Abdallah Jahanshahi). The names of the companies are: “Arman Sea Land Transport Company” and “Armin Shipping and International Transport Company”. Between the two, “Armin Shipping and International Transport Company” is the more prominent and veteran company (“Arman Sea Land Transport Company” was established only recently (January 2018). More importantly, Armin owns a warehouse in Sofia, Bulgaria. Given the direct business relations between Tufekci and Armin, it is highly probable that they jointly own or operate the warehouse.
The business link between Tufekci and their local branch is only one part of the Iranian equation (see graph below). The other part is that of “Khayyam Tarabar Transport Company” (KTTS) that is also mentioned in Tufekci’s website (on the map). The Company is an Iranian entity that has links to both other transport companies in Iran as well as other UAE-based entities. According to its website, KTTS mainly imports and exports to and from Afghanistan, ex-Soviet bloc countries (particularly to C.I.S countries) and the far east. According to its profile in a Chinese traders forum, the company specializes mainly in Chemicals, Computer Products, Electrical & Electronics, Service, Tools & Hardware. In addition, KTTS claims to be the exclusive agents of the following companies: Persepolis Shipping and Containers (Russia), Sea Marine Logistics (India), Parsim (Italy) and Grand Modal (China). Further investigation needs to be carried out in order to ascertain the identity of these companies.
Khayyam mentions another company which it acts as its exclusive agent – “Doris Shipping & Forwarding Co. LLC” (DSFC) from the UAE. In fact, both companies are managed by the same CEO, Amin Rezazadeh. This means that Doris is either a subsidiary or affiliate of Khayyam. Doris Shipping and Khayyam are also linked to another UAE-based shipping company called “Naveed Shipping and Forwarding”. The latter is in fact a subsidiary or agent of Doris Shipping and the two even share the same address. More importantly, while the websites of Doris Shipping and Khayyam do not disclose any information regarding their affiliation, Naveed claims that Khayyam Tarabar is its sister-company. What seems more likely is that Naveed acts as a buffer between Doris and Khayyam allowing the former to interact with other agents in its global network, that includes one based in New York (see picture below).
Cargo Networks into Iran:
In a final analysis, Cargo transport networks into Iran are convoluted and sophisticated ones that facilitate the delivery of a wide range of cargo to be delivered into Iran via land, air and sea. While they are the last link in the procurement chain which may consist of various Iranian entities that hide their true identity behind shell companies, agents and other intermediaries that act on behalf of Iranian bad elements. Therefore, these networks vital for Iran’s ability to obtain parts, machines and materials for its nuclear and missilery projects as well as its sanctioned energy sector.
As this report has shown, Turkey is a particularly critical link in the supply chain to Iran since it serves as the staging area for cargo coming in vial land, air & sea. This is particularly true when it comes to land transport, where the EU customs checkpoint in Bulgaria serves as the entry and exit points for cargo coming in and out of Iran. Thus, companies like Tufekci serve as a critical junction for various cargo networks into Iran. At times, as past events have shown, dual use and other prohibited cargo can also be routed from the USA to Europe and then to the UAE and back to Turkey before entering Iran – all in order to obfuscate the true destination of the cargo through a series of intermediaries.
In this context, the activity of companies like Doris Shipping should be seen as part of the Tufekci’s network in addition to the fact that they offer a transport service via the UAE that is separate from Tufekci.
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