ISIS Iran Report

Reports and News on Iranian Illicit Procurement Efforts

October 23, 2009

Decision Reached on Vanaki Case: Landgericht Finds Defendant Guilty, Issues Suspended Sentence

On September 24, the district court of Frankfurt (Landgericht) ruled against German-Iranian Mohsen Vanaki. Vanaki was accused of brokering the sale of high-speed cameras and radiation detectors for an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Vanaki worked principally with the Iranian company Kimya Pakhsh Sharg Co. Ltd. in Iran, but he also dealt with Aryadaran General Trading LLC in Dubai. Following a four-day trial, Vanaki was sentenced to a 22-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay the court 5,000 Euros ($7,300).  The prosecutor is appealing this decision and is seeking a prison sentence of three years and four months for Vanaki.  Throughout the trial, Vanaki maintained his innocence, saying that he never attempted to conceal his business, and that his words were twisted by the court.

Because of conflicting intelligence reports from various governments, the district court could not determine definitively whether Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program at the time of the crime. However, an expert from the University in Munich testified that the high-speed cameras transferred to Iran had no practical application outside of the development of nuclear weapons. Based on this testimony, the district court ruled that Vanaki should have been aware that the items he sought to procure for Iran could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

This case shows the challenges facing prosecutors when attempting to convict someone who may be supplying an illicit nuclear weapons program. Because intelligence agencies typically do not conclude “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a country is developing a nuclear weapons program, it is difficult to use their estimates to reach a conviction in court against a suspected proliferator. Although the law was upheld in this case, Vanaki’s extremely small penalty demonstrates the problems prosecutors face when seeking to use penalties to deter future cases of proliferation.

To find the details regarding the case against Vanaki and the evidence presented by the BND see the updated illicit trade case study The Trials of the German-Iranian Trader Mohsen Vanaki.

A Smuggler’s Use of the U.S. Financial System to Receive Illegal Payments from Iran

This ISIS report takes a look at the now infamous case of Limmt Economic and Trade Company, Ltd and its owner Li Fang Wei who was charged by the New York District Attorney’s office for procurement activities that were in violation of United Nations resolutions and, Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) export guidelines. In April 2009, a New York State Grand Jury indicted Limmt and Li Fang Wei and charged them with conspiracy in the fifth degree and one hundred and eighteen counts of deception and fraud against United States financial institutions, eight of which involved Iranian customers.

See the full report: A Smuggler’s Use of the U.S. Financial System to Receive Illegal Payments from Iran

Iran’s Procurement of U.S. Military Aircraft Parts: Extended Details

Iran illicitly targets U.S. military technology for procurement both because of its high quality. Two recent cases of Iran’s illicit military procurement activities show that efforts by the United States and other exporters of military goods to prevent trade in dual use or sensitive technology continue to be thwarted by determined proliferators.

See the full reports here: Iran’s Procurement of U.S. Military Aircraft Parts: Extended Details

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