- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 27, 2005

A federal grand jury in the District on Friday returned a five-count indictment against a British man, charging him with attempting to send restricted electrical parts and other equipment, including an experimental airplane, to Iran.

Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, who heads U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the indictment accuses Ali Asghar Manzarpour, 43, of violating federal export laws. He was arrested in Poland and detained for U.S. authorities pending a formal extradition request.

Manzarpour was convicted and sentenced in Britain in 1998 for attempting to smuggle maraging steel to Iran’s nuclear program, and he served nine months in jail. Maraging steel is high-strength steel that can be used to help build centrifuges for nuclear weapons.

If convicted, he faces up to 50 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“In the post-September 11 world, keeping sensitive U.S. technology out of the wrong hands has never been more important,” Mr. Garcia said. “I am especially proud of the ICE agents in this country and overseas who helped Polish authorities track down this individual.”

Exports to Iran of U.S.-origin commodities require an export license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department. It is also unlawful to ship U.S.-origin products to a third country and then re-export them to Iran without authorization. The prohibitions have been in place since 1995.

In the indictment, Manzarpour is accused of exporting an experimental aircraft, a Berkut 360 single-engine plane, from the United States to the United Kingdom in April 2004. After the airplane arrived in Britain, according to the indictment, Manzarpour rebooked it for shipment to Iran without obtaining an export license.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said agents from ICE and the Commerce Department Office of Export Enforcement learned the plane was in England, en route to Iran, and ordered the shipping company to return it to the United States, where it was later seized.

According to the indictment, on four separate occasions in 2000 and 2001, Manzarpour obtained various electrical components from companies in the United States and transshipped them to Iran through Austria. It said Manzarpour did not acquire a license for any of these shipments.

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