Volvo lorries are being used to carry Iranian missiles, campaigners claim, as they named Swedish companies they say have close ties to Tehran.
United Against Nuclear Iran alleges Volvo is one of a number of companies that have business interests in the country but have refused to explain their dealings or agreed to withdraw.
The pressure group have begun what they say will be a series of Europe-wide events naming businesses with ties to Tehran and chose Sweden to launch its campaign, as two of its citizens are detained in Iran.
Johan Floderus is an EU diplomat jailed for more than 500 days and Ahmadreza Djalali is facing the death penalty.
Requests for withdrawal from Iran or information about business dealings with the country were sent in early September to 40 companies and six universities, but only seven responded, UANI said at an event in the Swedish Parliament.
UANI claim Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which plays a leading roll in Iran’s nuclear programme, controls between a “third and two thirds of the economy”. Doing business in Iran risks “entanglement, if not outright collaboration, with this most heinous organisation”.
In its letter to Volvo, UANI asked the company if it intends to sever ties with Iran. It said it has not received a response.
The pressure group released an image showing a lorry with the Volvo badge on the front towing a trailer carrying an Iranian missile.
Other images show similar vehicles and others with the logo covered but with “FH16″ written above the windscreen. One of the vehicles was being used as a tank transporter.
According to the Volvo Trucks website, the FH16 is a model of one of its vehicles.
Alireza Akhondi, a member of the Swedish Parliament who sits on UANI’s board, urged Volvo Trucks to end its ties with Iran.
“It has been clear that your products are being used for purposes that either you didn’t want to see or thought wasn’t going to happen,” he told The National.
“But we’ve seen the result and you have the opportunity to take responsibility now and be on the right side of history, to be part of the solution and not the problem.”
Mr Akhondi said that Volvo’s case should be a warning to other companies thinking about exporting to Iran.
“Many products have dual civilian-military use,” he added. “I don’t think that companies such as Volvo would want their products to be used in this way.”
Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the UN for management and reform and UANI’s chief executive, said: “I don’t mean to pick on Volvo but I have photos of Volvo trucks carrying IRGC missiles. This must change.”
UANI also accuses Iran of threatening activists opposed to the regime living in Sweden through what it says are “well-financed” covert operations.
It claims there is strong evidence that 11 active Swedish companies are doing business in Iran, including telecoms firm Ericsson, industrial battery maker Alcad and Scania, which makes lorries and busses.
A further 18 are being investigated over suspected ties to Tehran, while five have severed ties as a result of pressure.
“For those who answered, this is a good sign and they’ve been honest enough to explain themselves,” said Mr Akhondi, a member of the Centre Party.
“I would really like to praise their bravery to understand that their business with the Islamic Republic has consequences.”
Kasra Aarabi, UK director of UANI, also pointed to the risk of European universities engaging with Iran and highlighted a document published by the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution and co-signed by the IRGC commander-in-chief.
According to Mr Aarabi, it says the IRGC and the regime’s intelligence apparatus is seeking “maximum access to Iranian universities and their international partnerships for the procurement of sensitive military research and technology”.
If any European universities are engaging with Iranian counterparts, he warns against “sharing dual-use research, ideas or technologies, as many of them are, this research and technology will end up in the hands of the IRGC”.
A Scania representative said: “We have explained in a reply to UANI that Scania was committed to complying with laws and regulations such as around embargoes and other international sanctions as well as export control, in all of our global operations.
“We are equally committed to following principles and standards of sustainability and business ethics, including our responsibility to respect human rights and act in line with human rights and humanitarian law.
“For all of this, we have a solid corporate governance framework in place, including, but not limited to, our code of conduct, other policies and guidelines. This covers also rigorous audit and other internal processes to continuously monitor and ensure that all parts of Scania’s organisation acts accordingly.”
Volvo said: “We have had no business operation of our own in Iran but instead used to work with private partners.
“For many years, it has not been possible for us to conduct business in Iran due to the general situation in the country, with the exception of delivering spare parts to meet our warranty obligations, conduct service campaigns and safety recalls.
It added that “used trucks are sold and resold by other parties on the regional market several times during a truck’s life cycle”.
“We have no influence over who buys or sells or operates used Volvo trucks in Iran or for which purpose,” it said.
Ericsson and Alcad have been approached for comment.
Source » thenationalnews