Thursday, May 26, 2011
Spanish police stop illegal sale of Israeli military helicopters to Iran
Five Spanish businessmen, three Iranians involved in sale of the helicopters, which is illegal due to UN sanctions on Iran, nabbed by police.
Spanish police have arrested eight people who allegedly planned to sell to Iran military transport helicopters that they obtained in Israel.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said five Spanish businessmen and three Iranians who had come to Spain to finalize the deal have been arrested.
A ministry statement said nine U.S.-made Bell 212 helicopters were seized in warehouses in Madrid and the northeastern port city of Barcelona. Spare aircraft parts that police say were intended for Venezuela were also confiscated.
The United Nations has imposed an arms embargo on Iran. Police put the value of the sale at 100 million ($140 million).
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently revealed in a report fresh evidence that Iran has tried to weaponize its nuclear program. Many are increasingly concerned that Iran is trying to obtain nuclear weapons, and thus sanctions against the country continue to be tightened.
U.S. senators recently proposed further tightening sanctions on Iran, reflecting fears that companies overseas, particularly in China, are evading U.S. penalties imposed last year for doing business with Iran.
The Senate bill was introduced a day after the Obama administration penalized seven foreign firms, including Venezuela's state-owned oil company, for trading with Iran.
The European Union this week also tightened sanctions against Iran, reflecting the mounting frustration over a lack of progress in nuclear talks with Tehran.
EU foreign ministers agreed to add more than 100 new entities to a list of companies and people affected by EU sanctions, designed to put economic pressure on Tehran to abandon its atomic program, EU diplomats said.