A retired businessman extradited to the US on charges of selling weapons parts to Iran is to change his plea to guilty after reaching a deal with prosecutors.
Christopher Tappin, 65, had always denied trying to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles, claiming he was the victim of an FBI sting.
The BBC’s Alastair Leithead said Mr Tappin would enter a guilty plea when he appears in court next week.
Mr Tappin, from London, was due to go on trial in Texas on 5 November.
If convicted, the former president of the Kent Golf Society could have faced 35 years in jail.
Mr Tappin was arrested by UK police in 2010 and fought a two-year battle against extradition.
The former director of Surrey-based Brooklands International Freight Services strongly denied the charges, saying he believed he was exporting batteries for the car industry in the Netherlands.
Mr Tappin was eventually flown to the US in February after British judges said the extradition was lawful.
The grandfather-of-one was then held at New Mexico’s Otero County detention centre for two months before being released from custody on bail of $1m (£620,000).
His bail conditions required him to wear an electronic tag, to surrender his passport, and to travel only to El Paso and Houston, where he has been staying with one of his lawyers.
Speaking in April, Mr Tappin, of Orpington, south-east London, said: “I’m not a terrorist.
“I’ve never had any connections with terrorism and I’m just appalled that things could come to this sort of stage – especially in my life now, when I’m 65, been retired for four years and enjoying retirement.”
28th Septeber 2011 – STOP THE BOMB PRESS RELEASE: Iranian linked Italian Lawyer Attending Arms Fair in UK
Stop the Bomb UK can reveal that Raffaele Rossi Patriarca, an Italian lawyer arrested for his role in trafficking illegal arms to Iran, is attending the Helitech Helicopter Exhibition in Duxford this week.
Last year, on March 3, seven people were arrested for illegal arms trafficking. Of the seven people arrested, five were Italians and two Iranians. Two further Iranians Hamir Reza, e Bakhtiyari Homayou vanished. One of the five Italians was Raffaele Rossi Patriarca. Patriarca met with Iranian military officials interested in buying the armaments. The two Iranians were Nejad Hamid Masoumi and Ali Damirchiloo, both suspected to be Iranian secret agents. Working as a journalist, Masoumi was arrested in Rome while Damirchiloo was arrested in Turin.
Milanese police confiscated a large amount of tracer bullets, explosives from Easter Europe, and a highly inflammable mixture of chemical material, used as ammunition, booster explosive, or incendiary bomb. Police also found parachutes, a helicopter, aviators’ helmets, and 120 scuba diving jackets intended for military equipment.
Stop the Bomb spokesperson Sam Westrop noted, “One would expect that Patriarca, having been arrested for aiding the Iranian military, would want to keep clear of the arms fair world. Let’s hope none of the contracts he signs in Duxford end up providing tools of oppression to the Iranian regime.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The Obama administration enacted new financial sanctions on Iran’s elite military unit and its largest shipping company, as the U.S. intensifies efforts to choke Tehran off from the global financial system.The Treasury Department’s announcement Tuesday comes just weeks ahead of a scheduled second round of negotiations in Turkey between Iran and the international community focused on containing Tehran’s nuclear program, which Iran says is peaceful in nature.
Senior U.S. officials said the new measures illustrate that Washington and its allies won’t relax their financial campaign against Iran even as the diplomatic process continues in late January. “It’s clear that our policy is going to be to continue to impose pressure on Iran so long as it defies its international obligations,” said Stuart Levey, the Treasury’s point man on Iran sanctions.
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, held an earlier diplomatic round with Iran on Dec. 6-7 in Geneva. The talks registered little progress and have sparked concern that Iran may seek to use the diplomacy to deflect international pressure while continuing to advance its nuclear capabilities.
The Treasury on Tuesday heightened its financial war against Iran’s principal military organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by blacklisting two banks and a financial foundation allegedly aiding the IRGC’s activities.
The Obama administration charges that the guard corps is the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and has overseen a crackdown on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s political opponents over the past 18 months.
The IRGC and its hundreds of affiliated companies have also taken a dominant position inside the Iranian economy in recent years, according to Iran analysts, crowding out private businesses.
The new U.S. measures bar Americans from doing business with the designated Iranian entities and would freeze any assets they hold inside the U.S. Foreign companies doing business with Ansar and Mehr banks, as well as the Bonyad Taavon Sepah foundation, risk being banned from the U.S. financial system.
The Treasury said Bonyad Taavon Sepah oversees and structures IRGC investments. Ansar Bank, it said, provides financial credit to IRGC personnel, while Mehr Bank provides financial services to the IRGC’s Bassij, a volunteer militia.
Also on Tuesday, the Treasury sanctioned Moallem Insurance Co., described as the primary maritime insurer for vessels owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL.
Washington and its allies have been engaged in a global cat-and-mouse game with IRISL, Iran’s biggest shipper, over the past two years as the U.S. has sought to hobble Tehran’s ability to import and export goods.
The Treasury first blacklisted IRISL in 2008 for allegedly aiding Iran’s arms shipments. The shipping firm has renamed a number of its affiliated companies and often sails its ships under false flags, according to U.S. officials. IRISL has also been charged with repainting its boats to avoid detection.
Still, U.S., U.N. and European sanctions are taking a growing toll on IRISL, said U.S. officials. British and Bermudan insurance consortiums, key players in the global market, have stopped insuring its ships. IRISL has increasingly turned to Moallem Insurance to underwrite its ships.
Squeeze on Tehran
Treasury’s sanctions aim to:
Blacklist shipping firms accused of helping move arms.
Undercut Tehran’s ability to insure ships.
Sanction a foundation, banks seen as aiding military activities of Revolutionary Guard.
Bar U.S. investment to Iran- owned Paris Oil & Gas Co.
Source: The Financial Times
Senegal has recalled its ambassador from Tehran to register dissatisfaction with Iran’s explanation of an arms scandal. It is a setback for the Islamic republic’s efforts to deepen ties with African states.
The move came after Iran sacked Manouchehr Mottaki, its foreign minister, on Monday. At the time, Mr Mottaki was in Senegal, in part to explain a Nigerian seizure in October of an Iranian consignment of rockets and explosives hidden in a container of building materials. Nigerian authorities later intercepted a second container from Iran carrying heroin.
Last month the weapons scandal led Gambia, Senegal’s neighbour, to sever ties with Iran. Nigeria suspected the weapons were being sent to Banjul, Gambia’s capital, and reported the seizures to the UN. The shipments could be in breach of UN Security Council resolutions over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Nigeria has charged a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards with arms trafficking.
Source: The Daily Star Lebanon
BEIRUT: Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called Tuesday on the Lebanese Cabinet to ask Arab states and Iran to provide equipment to the Lebanese Army.
Nasrallah also urged the Cabinet to consider the establishment of a nuclear reactor to meet the country’s future demand for electricity.
“All Arab states express love for Lebanon along with other friendly states and thus I suggest that the Cabinet determines the quality of weapons needed to equip the army and then submit its proposal to Arab states,” Nasrallah said.
He added that Lebanon’s regional position, “neighboring the Israeli enemy” called on the Cabinet to act swiftly to acquire weapons rather than discuss a long-term plan to equip the army.
“We do not want money but weapons because it will rust in your storage houses,” Nasrallah said with regard to the Cabinet proposal that should be submitted to Arab states.
He also called on the government to ask Iran for military aid, stressing that “Hizbullah will work hard through his friendship with Iran to equip the Lebanese Army.”
This legitimisation of military aid from Iran is yet another attempt to unite Arab states against the West. Iran has de facto provided weapons to Hezbollah, a vicious terrorist organisation with thousands of dead to its name, since Iran helped found Hezbollah in 1982.
The division that Hezbollah and its beliefs have caused, has decreased since Syria become one of its largest patrons alongside Iran, after Bashar Al-Assad inherited power.