UK dealers suspected of selling arms to Iran

British customs officers have recently identified a number of British arms dealers trading with Tehran, The Guardian newspaper reported Sunday.

According to the report, the investigation has triggered alarm among government officials who fear Iran’s nuclear program may be receiving significant support from UK sources.

The customs officers suspect that at least seven Britons have been defying sanctions by supplying the Iranian air force, its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, and even the country’s controversial nuclear ambitions.

Officials told The Guardian they are concerned by the number of British dealers who appear to be trading with Tehran, despite a third round of restrictions being recently imposed by the United Nations on exporting arms and components to Iran.

Among the examples uncovered, the report said, is the case of a UK businessman caught smuggling components for use in guided missiles through a front company that proved to be the Iranian Ministry of Defense. The man, London businessman Mehrdad Salashoor, was jailed for 18 months.

Another case involves a group that included several Britons which, investigators alleged, attempted to export components intended to enhance the performance of Iranian aircraft.

Another Briton, John Knight, one of Britain’s most experienced arms dealers, was caught trading machine-guns used by the SAS and capable of firing 800 rounds a minute with a Tehran-based weapons supplier. He has also been jailed for four years.

At least two other UK nationals are also being investigated over claims they are working, or have worked with, Iran to import components for the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

According to The Guardian, these individuals are understood to have long-standing links to nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s ‘father of the bomb’, who has admitted helping North Korea, Iran and Libya to develop nuclear weapons.

A Foreign Office source told The Guardian that evidence that Iranian authorities are contacting British companies as it tries to circumvent sanctions ‘through the backdoor’ was a concern. “We shouldn’t be naive enough to know that (Iran) will not try to get these items,” he added.

Source » ynetnews

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