Iran is using a Venezuelan airline to move missile and other technology along the commercial Tehran-Damascus-Caracas route – in violation of U.N. sanctions, reports the Center for Security Policy, a Washington based think tank.
Venezuela’s strongman Hugo Chavez has cut a deal with Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to allow that rogue dictator to use Chavez’s Conviasa Airlines to, among other things, transfer sensitive and proscribed scientific equipment to and from the Center for Studies and Research in Damascus, Syria.
According to the think tank, the latest Chavez-Ahmadinejad chicanery is detailed in a Western intelligence memorandum on the impact of Ahmadinejad’s agreements with several South American nations.
The memorandum specifically notes the Center for Studies and Research’s trafficking in shipments of machinery, computers for control of missiles and equipment for the development of aircraft carriers -- beginning with the building of the engines.
Adding to the mischief, the forbidden shipments are reportedly being facilitated by the industrial group “Shahid Baker (SBIG),” which in December 2006 was included in the list of sanctioned companies based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737.
SBIG was sanctioned because of its contribution to the development of Iran’s missile program. Under the U.N. resolution no country could make purchases of missile technology from that company.
The report by the Center for Security Policy suggests that the latest Chavez-Ahmadinejad liaison may have been prompted by crackdowns on the illegal trade by Turkey. Recently, Ankara interdicted 22 units of Center for Studies and Research machines manufactured by the Chinese and intended both for Iran and Syria.
Forced to find new ways to keep the illicit pipeline open to Damascus, Ahmadinejad turned to his friend Chavez -- and his fleet of Venezuelan aircraft.
Chavez agreed to help in exchange for an Iranian commitment to send instructors to Caracas for the secret police and intelligence services -- all the better to monitor the volatile civilian population.
This aspect of the deal was verified by the recent arrival in the South American country of at least ten senior officials of Iran’s secretive Al Quds Force of the Pasdaran.
Reportedly, another aspect of the Tehran-Caracas deal is the availability of Conviasa Airlines to move military equipment that companies linked to the Pasdaran can not buy openly on the market because of the U.N. sanctions.
The primary mission of the Quds Force reportedly is to organize, train, equip, and finance foreign Islamic revolutionary movements. Furthermore, the Quds Force is said to maintain and build contacts with underground Islamic militant organizations throughout the Islamic world.
The memorandum referenced by the Center for Security Policy indicates that Western intelligence is now closely monitoring passengers and equipment traveling along the Tehran-Damascus-Caracas route. The first conclusion drawn from the oversight: passengers and cargo include intelligence officials, military officers and materials banned by the U.N.
Included in the manifest of passengers on the Tehran-Damascus-Caracus run -- Syrian and Venezuelan officers who last summer engaged in the maneuvers of the Pasdaran.
Despite the secretive nature of the aerial runs, Iranian Vice-President Parviz Davoudi highlighted in a recent speech the “priority of promoting trade and industrial cooperation with the revolutionary nations.”
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