British firms ignored international trade sanctions on Iran to further trade: WikiLeaks

Thursday, February 3, 2011

LONDON - British companies were selling or leasing items to Iranian companies which were the subject of international trade sanctions, according to classified US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

One of the cables revealed that in February 2008, the US State Department had contacted its London Embassy to put pressure on the British government to block deals for aircraft and ships that it feared would be used to transport nuclear materials.

The cable had requested “immediate action” over three Jumbo Jets it believed were bound for Iranian-owned Mahan Air, which is banned from operating within the EC.

The aircraft were registered with Blue Airways, a subsidiary of London-based Balli Group, which “leases all of its aircraft to Mahan Air. Mahan Air is associated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”, the cable stated.

It also that “three other airplanes… that were acquired over a year ago by Balli Group have gone into service with Mahan Air”.

The US feared the Revolutionary Guard’s “ability to misuse civilian aircraft for nefarious activities” adding that “Iran’s control of additional aircraft could enhance its military capabilities or facilitate its support for international terrorism”, the Telegraph reports.

The US also instigated an investigation of British shipping firms after telling the government in 2009 that Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) was creating “phantom companies” abroad.

Washington advised Britain that ships owned by two British companies should be “subject to the same level of scrutiny as those of IRISL”. (ANI)

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