Europeans 'netted' in Tehran deals
Belgian and Swedish newspapers yesterday gave detailled reports of shady deals with Iran for US and European weapons and ammunition.
In its main front-page story, Belgium’s leading French-language daily, Le Soir, reported that after a skillful doctoring of customs’ certificates more than 3.000 mainly-US, anti-tank missiles had passed through Brussels international airport to Tehran between 1983 and 1985.
According to Le Soir, the consignment was disguised by a careful separation of West German and US components and by the use of transit forms which masked the final destination.
The revelations are the latest in a series of articles in Belgian publications which have implicated the country in the arms-for-Iran scandal and sought to highlight Belgium’s close links with the secretive world of international arms dealing.
Le Soir said that French companies had shipped 450.000 150mm shells to Iran through the North Sea port of Zeebrugge during the same period, despite Paris’s strong support for Iraq in the Gulf War.
A Belgian arms company, PRB, and a Swedish arms firm, Bofors, had been involved in similar exports from the northern French airfield of Lille, taking advantage of lax border controls to falsify export licenses, it added. Both companies have denied any involvement in such deals.
In December, the Foreign Minister, Mr. Leo Tindemans, ordered an inquiry into press reports which said Belgian arms had reached Iran regularly since the start of the Gulf conflict.
The result of the inquiry have yet to be published, but a recent series of leaks have suggested widespread use of Belgian ports and airports for illegal arms sales, facilitated by Belgium’s proximity to borders with three other European countries.
The chairman of one of Belgium’s largest banks, Banque Brussels Lambert, yesterday angrily denied an article in the New York Times which said it was involved along with other European banks in furnishing funds for arms shipments to Iran.
A Belgian weekly current affairs magazine Le Via Express, yesterday published photostats of what it said was a contract between the Maltese subsidiary of a Belgian company, Asco-Malta, and Tehran in 1983 for the sale of French tanks and ammunition.
The contract, signed by the Iranian Transport Minister, Mr. Mehdi Kashani, was worth $13 million and was handled through Bank Melli Iran, London. A spokesman for Asco-Belgium said his company had no knowledge of any such deals through its Maltese subsidiary.
In Stockholm, a spokesman for Bofors dismissed press reports that 70 planeloads of ammunition were exported to Iran last year from northern France by the company as "quite fantastic".
The daily, Sydsvenska Dagbladet, quoted a Belgian customs report as describing the company as being part of a "cartel" of arms suppliers t Iran.
Bron: The Guardian | 7 februari 1987
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