The minister of security for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fahrudin Radončić, wrote on his Instagram page on Monday that a Bosnian company engaged in negotiations with Iran’s embassy in Sarajevo to sell illicit material that could be used for Tehran’s nuclear program in violation of EU and US sanctions.
“In a statement from the management of Alumina, they themselves revealed that they had organized and held a meeting with people from the ‘Economic Section of the Embassy of Iran in Sarajevo,” Radončić wrote, who said his agency stopped the deal.
The website Balkan Insight first reported in English on the company Alumina‘s alleged efforts to circumvent American and European sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The article noted that Bosnian media reported that ”the executive directors of a company called Alumina spoke to the Iranians about arranging the purchase of aluminium oxide powder that could have been used in Tehran’s nuclear program.”
Balkan Insight provided an overview of the Bosnian reporting on the unfolding scandal.
According to the website Zurnal, “the export would have had to have been arranged through companies from Turkey and Pakistan so that Alumina would not be formally associated with the end customers in Iran.”
The Jerusalem Post sent press queries to Alumina on Wednesday. The company is located in the town of Zvornik in the Republika Srpska.
The Bosnian security service confirmed the discussions between Iran and Alumina, prompting Radončić to travel to Republika Srpska to speak with the Serbian member of the tripartite Bosnian presidency, Milorad Dodik.
“I presented Mr. Dodik with the information available to us and our international partners, and I must tell you that he, as a member of the presidency, reacted very responsibly,” Radončić told Bosnia’s Face TV.
Radončić added that“He immediately demanded that they [his staff] connect him with officials from that company and very directly and specifically forbade that company from having any business with that country [Iran].”
Dodik said that “I was informed that there were some contacts [between Alumina and the Iranian embassy]. Knowing that America has imposed sanctions against Iran, we have no reason to risk anything, and I called the Alumina director and told him to cut off all those contacts. The job [sale of aluminium oxide to Iran] was never completed.”
According to Balkan Insight, Radončić spoke with Iran’s ambassador about the sale on March 9.
Radončić said“I warned him that Bosnia is pursuing a security and sanctions policy against Iran in line with the foreign policy of the EU and our largest strategic partner, the US government.”
He continued that “God forbid that that cooperation continued. We would have jeopardized our vital national interests because we could have been subject to sanctions.”
Balkan Insight wrote the management of Alumina said “not a single kilogram of goods produced by Alumina has been sold directly to Iran or indirectly through other countries, as the media have speculatively stated.”
Alumina acknowledged that it met with representatives of the Iranian embassy.
“Truth be told, we are announcing to the public that after a series of requests from the Iranian Embassy’s economic department in Sarajevo for a meeting with Alumina, Alumina’s marketing team had a meeting with the Deputy Ambassador for the Economic Sector,” Alumina said.
Alumina claimed that it told the Iranian officials that “Iran is under sanctions and that it is not possible to establish business cooperation with companies from that country. There is written evidence of this.”
In 2013, The Post reported that the government of Bosnia ordered two Iranian diplomats to leave the Balkan country.
Bosnia’s Security Ministry sent a request to the Foreign Ministry to expel the second- and third-ranking diplomats at the Iranian Embassy in Sarajevo.The diplomats, Hamzeh Dolab Ahmad and Jadidi Sohrab, the second and third secretaries at the embassy, appear to work for the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MISIRI).
Radončić declared the Iranians persona non grata because their conduct violated diplomatic rules. He did not provide greater specificity for expelling the Iranians.
The US national security expert John Schindler, who has written extensively on the Balkans, told the Post at the time Iran’s network was established in Bosnia more than 20 years ago. “It is deep in the institutions” and the minister of security did “the right thing but is being stymied by the establishment.”
Schindler played a key role in causing the Bosnian government to expel the Iranian spies in 2013.
Source » jpost