Reuters: The United States slapped sanctions on six Iranian military firms on Wednesday and charged 16 foreign companies and individuals with illegally obtaining U.S. military goods for Tehran, including microchips that can be used to trigger roadside bombs.
By Jim Loney
MIAMI (Reuters) – The United States slapped sanctions on six Iranian military firms on Wednesday and charged 16 foreign companies and individuals with illegally obtaining U.S. military goods for Tehran, including microchips that can be used to trigger roadside bombs.
The U.S. Treasury Department said it would sanction six Iranian military firms owned or controlled by entities singled out before for their roles in Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Washington suspects Iran of building a nuclear weapon and has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Iranian companies and state entities as a means of pressuring Tehran to give up sensitive atomic work. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful power purposes and not to build a bomb.
"The Iranian regime continues to act recklessly and it still remains a grave challenge to the United States and to international security," Mario Mancuso, U.S. Commerce undersecretary for industry and security, said at a Miami news conference.
The indictment was issued on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and just short of two months before what is gearing up to be a tightly contested U.S. presidential election.
The companies earmarked for sanctions included Iran Electronics Industries, Shiraz Electronics Industries, Iran Communications Industries, Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company, Farasakht Industries, and Armament Industries Group, a Treasury Department statement said.
The companies "fall under Iran's military-industrial complex," Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in Miami. "They are certainly state-owned and controlled."
In the indictment issued in Miami, eight companies and eight individuals were charged following a two-year investigation that accuses them of being part of a global network obtaining "dual-use" goods for Iran.
CHIPS FOR BOMBS
Dual-use means the products have routine uses but can also have military applications.
U.S.-origin goods diverted to Iran through the network included some subject to U.S. controls for missile technology, national security and anti-terrorism reasons, the Commerce Department said.
The goods included thousands of integrated circuits, hundreds of Global Positioning Systems devices and some 12,000 micro-controllers that can be used in the trigger mechanisms of improvised explosive devices, officials said in Miami.
Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta said chips bearing the same part number as those listed in the indictment had been found in IEDs discovered by U.S. forces in Iraq. But officials could not say if any of the parts had been used in specific acts of violence in Iraq.
All the defendants are charged with conspiracy and violations involving the Iran Trade Embargo, the Iranian Transactions Regulations, the Export Administration Regulations and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The eight people charged included a Malaysian, a resident of Germany and six Iranians, two of whom were naturalized Britons. Officials would not say if any of them had been arrested, only that they were all overseas and the United States was seeking their extradition.
Officials said the indictment should serve as a wake-up call to U.S. manufacturers and suppliers that might be doing business with such suspect companies overseas.
"We cannot profit at the expense of our soldiers' safety," Acosta said.
The Commerce Department also is placing 75 companies in 13 countries on its "entities list" — what Mancuso called the "A-list of suspected bad actors" — which would bar them from exporting goods subject to the Export Administration Act.
The companies operate in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the United States, Mancuso said.
The indictments stem from a 2006 case involving Dubai-based Mayrow General Trading, which the United States accused of illegally diverting controlled U.S. goods to Iran which then found their way into bombs used in Iraq.
(Additional reporting by Sue Pleming, Doug Palmer and James Vicini in Washington, editing by Michael Christie and Cynthia Osterman)