Venezuela-Iran pact: Airplanes for Weapons

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From La Stampa:  

Hugo Chavez is helping Tehran evade UN sanctions by exploiting the Venezuelan airlines under an agreement with Mahmud Ahmadinejad, to strengthen the Iranian penetration in Latin America.

The news is contained in some western intelligence memorandum on the impact of Ahmadinejad’s agreements with several South American nations. The pact between Tehran and Caracas, according to the memorandum, states that Chavez is allowing Ahmadinejad to freely use its airliners and obtain military aid in exchange. Iran is using the company Conviasa’s airplanes along the commercial Tehran-Damascus-Caracas route for multiple purposes. First, to transfer scientific equipment to Syria’s laboratories, the “Center for Studies and Research” in Damascus. In particular, it would be the Center’s shipments of machinery, computers for control of missiles and equipment for the development of aircraft carriers, beginning with the building of the engines.

Shipments are made by the industrial group “Shahid Baker (SBIG)”, which in December 2006 was included in the list of sanctioned companies based on UN Security Council Resolution 1737, because of the it role played in developing Iran’s missile program. Under that resolution Syria – like any other country – could not make purchases of missile technology from that company, but using the airline Conviasa allows you to carry out transactions evading controls.

Intelligence suggests that Tehran may have found, thanks to the Caracas Air secured transport, a system by which to overcome the problems encountered as a result of the increasingly more stringent controls implemented by the Turkish authorities on the export of prohibited material. A few months ago, the customs services of Ankara intercepted 22 units of this Center for Studies and Research machines manufactured by the Chinese “Shenyang Machine Tool” company and intended partly for Iran, after they continued into Syria. It was after this episode that Ahmadinejad offered to help Chavez, partly because relations with Ankara had already cracked following the railway incident in May 2007 when a train from Iran and Syria derailed in Turkish territory, leading to the discovery of a shipment of arms destined for Hezbollah. This sparked strong irritation in Turkey and, among other things, led the Iranian authorities to replace the commander of the Pasdaran Rahim Safavi with the successor Muhamed Jaaferi.

Forced to find new ways to reach the territory of Damascus, Ahmadinejad thought that Venezuelan aircraft were the most simple and handy, Chavez has proved compliant, and in return received a substantial aid package: Iranian commitment to send instructors to Caracas for the secret police and intelligence services as witnessed by the recent arrival in the South American country of at least ten senior official of the Al Quds Force of the Pasdaran. For Chavez the Iranian trainers are a useful tool to permit its security forces to be more effective against domestic opponents. Another element of the Tehran-Caracas pact is the availability of Conviasa Airlines in Iran to carry military equipment that companies linked to the Pasdaran can not buy freely on the market precisely because of UN sanctions.

The proliferation of these signals has led Western intelligence to closely monitor passengers and equipment traveling along the Tehran-Damascus-Caracas route, coming to the conclusion that it is often intelligence officials, military officers and materials banned by the UN. Among the passengers on those flights were also Syrian and Venezuelan officers who last July took part in the maneuvers of the Pasdaran. Yesterday in Teheran Vice-President Parviz Davoudi spoke on the “priority of promoting trade and industrial cooperation with the revolutionary nations”, validating the strategic decision to break the international isolation by focusing on the Tehran-South America ties.  Last Thursday the opening of the trade fair of the seven countries of the ‘Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas’ (Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic) in Tehran challenged the sanctions imposed on Tehran against the developing of nuclear energy.

More information here:

Venezuela-Iran pact: Airplanes in Exchange for Weapons

Center for Security Policy

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