by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 18, 2012
Iraq is helping its neighbor Iran skirt international sanctions by smuggling oil and letting Tehran secretly move large amounts of cash through bank auctions, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Last month, US President Barack Obama singled out the Elaf Islamic Bank in Iraq, saying it had arranged transactions worth tens of millions of dollars with Iranian banks already under sanctions because of alleged links to Tehran's nuclear program.
But the Times said the bank was only part of a network of financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations that have helped funnel cash to the Islamic republic as sanctions choke its economy.
David Cohen, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the United States is "actively pursuing efforts to prevent Iran from evading US or international financial sanctions, in Iraq or anywhere else."
Iraqi government officials are turning a blind eye to the large money transfers, smuggling and other trade with Iran and some are making a direct profit from the activities, the Times said, citing current and former US and Iraqi officials, as well as banking and oil experts.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki effectively controls Iraq's central bank and is "right in the middle of this," a former US intelligence official told the newspaper.
It said that Iranian groups all but control at least four Iraqi commercial banks through Iraqi intermediaries, giving Tehran direct access to the international financial system from which it was supposed to have been shut out through the sanctions.
Trade between Iran and Iraq has rapidly increased since the 2003 US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein, reaching an estimated $11 billion a year, according to the Times.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh insisted that Iraq "is not intending to break any rules." However, he added: "we also have good relations with Iran that we do not want to break."
The Times said that large-scale smuggling of oil and oil products is on the rise, with Baghdad doing little to stop the "highly organized" effort.
Iraqi fuel oil obtained at very low prices through government subsidies is being smuggled from Iraq to Iran through Kurdistan, according to the newspaper. Some of the cheap fuel is then smuggled again to Afghanistan to be sold at a significant profit.
And the Times said that some Iranian oil is shipped to Iraqi ports for sale.
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Germany arrests four over Iran exports
Berlin (AFP) Aug 15, 2012
German prosecutors said four men were arrested Wednesday, suspected of delivering equipment to Iran for use in a nuclear reactor the West fears could be used as part as a covert weapons programme. Three men with joint Iranian-German nationality, identified only as Kianzad Ka., Gholamali Ka. and Hamid Kh., and German national Rudolf M. were picked up early Wednesday by a force comprising 90 o ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|