The U.S. Government is taking several major actions today to counter Iran’s bid for nuclear capabilities and support for terrorism by exposing Iranian banks, companies and individuals that have been involved in these dangerous activities and by cutting them off from the U.S. financial system.
Today, the Department of State designated under Executive Order 13382 two key Iranian entities of proliferation concern: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC; aka Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) and the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL). Additionally, the Department of the Treasury designated for proliferation activities under E.O. 13382 nine IRGC-affiliated entities and five IRGC-affiliated individuals as derivatives of the IRGC, Iran’s state-owned Banks Melli and Mellat, and three individuals affiliated with Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO).
The Treasury Department also designated the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) under E.O. 13224 for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations, and Iran’s state-owned Bank Saderat as a terrorist financier.
Elements of the IRGC and MODAFL were listed in the Annexes to UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747. All UN Member States are required to freeze the assets of entities and individuals listed in the Annexes of those resolutions, as well as assets of entities owned or controlled by them, and to prevent funds or economic resources from being made available to them.
The Financial Action Task Force, the world’s premier standard-setting body for countering terrorist financing and money laundering, recently highlighted the threat posed by Iran to the international financial system. FATF called on its members to advise institutions dealing with Iran to seriously weigh the risks resulting from Iran’s failure to comply with international standards. Last week, the Treasury Department issued a warning to U.S. banks setting forth the risks posed by Iran. (For the text of the Treasury Department statement see: http://www.fincen.gov/guidance_fi_increasing_mlt_iranian.pdf.) Today’s actions are consistent with this warning, and provide additional information to help financial institutions protect themselves from deceptive financial practices by Iranian entities and individuals engaged in or supporting proliferation and terrorism.
Effect of Today’s Actions
As a result of our actions today, all transactions involving any of the designees and any U.S. person will be prohibited and any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen. Noting the UN Security Council’s grave concern over Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program activities, the United States also encourages all jurisdictions to take similar actions to ensure full and effective implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747.
Today’s designations also notify the international private sector of the dangers of doing business with three of Iran’s largest banks, as well as the many IRGC- affiliated companies that pervade several basic Iranian industries.
Proliferation Finance – Executive Order 13382 Designations
E.O. 13382, signed by the President on June 29, 2005, is an authority aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters, and at isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems. Designations under the Order prohibit all transactions between the designees and any U.S. person, and freeze any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC): Considered the military vanguard of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC; aka Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) is composed of five branches (Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, Basij militia, and Qods Force special operations) in addition to a counterintelligence directorate and representatives of the Supreme Leader. It runs prisons, and has numerous economic interests involving defense production, construction, and the oil industry. Several of the IRGC’s leaders have been sanctioned under UN Security Council Resolution 1747.
The IRGC has been outspoken about its willingness to proliferate ballistic missiles capable of carrying WMD. The IRGC’s ballistic missile inventory includes missiles, which could be modified to deliver WMD. The IRGC is one of the primary regime organizations tied to developing and testing the Shahab-3. The IRGC attempted, as recently as 2006, to procure sophisticated and costly equipment that could be used to support Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL):
The Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) controls the Defense Industries Organization, an Iranian entity identified in the Annex to UN Security Council Resolution 1737 and designated by the United States under E.O. 13382 on March 30, 2007. MODAFL also was sanctioned, pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act, in November 2000 for its involvement in missile technology proliferation activities.
MODAFL has ultimate authority over Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), which was designated under E.O. 13382 on June 28, 2005. The AIO is the Iranian organization responsible for ballistic missile research, development and production activities and organizations, including the Shahid Hemmat Industries Group (SHIG) and the Shahid Bakeri Industries Group (SBIG), which were both listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1737 and designated under E.O. 13382. The head of MODAFL has publicly indicated Iran’s willingness to continue to work on ballistic missiles. Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said that one of MODAFL’s major projects is the manufacturing of Shahab-3 missiles and that it will not be halted. MODAFL representatives have acted as facilitators for Iranian assistance to an E.O. 13382- designated entity and, over the past two years, have brokered a number of transactions involving materials and technologies with ballistic missile applications.
Bank Melli, its branches, and subsidiaries: Bank Melli is Iran’s largest bank. Bank Melli provides banking services to entities involved in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including entities listed by the U.N. for their involvement in those programs. This includes handling transactions in recent months for Bank Sepah, Defense Industries Organization, and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. Following the designation of Bank Sepah under UNSCR 1747, Bank Melli took precautions not to identify Sepah in transactions. Through its role as a financial conduit, Bank Melli has facilitated numerous purchases of sensitive materials for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. In doing so, Bank Melli has provided a range of financial services on behalf of Iran’s nuclear and missile industries, including opening letters of credit and maintaining accounts.
Bank Melli also provides banking services to the IRGC and the Qods Force. Entities owned or controlled by the IRGC or the Qods Force use Bank Melli for a variety of financial services. From 2002 to 2006, Bank Melli was used to send at least $100 million to the Qods Force. When handling financial transactions on behalf of the IRGC, Bank Melli has employed deceptive banking practices to obscure its involvement from the international banking system. For example, Bank Melli has requested that its name be removed from financial transactions.
Bank Mellat, its branches, and subsidiaries: Bank Mellat provides banking services in support of Iran’s nuclear entities, namely the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and Novin Energy Company. Both AEOI and Novin Energy have been designated by the United States under E.O. 13382 and by the UN Security Council under UNSCRs 1737 and 1747. Bank Mellat services and maintains AEOI accounts, mainly through AEOI’s financial conduit, Novin Energy. Bank Mellat has facilitated the movement of millions of dollars for Iran’s nuclear program since at least 2003. Transfers from Bank Mellat to Iranian nuclear-related companies have occurred as recently as this year.
IRGC-owned or -controlled companies: Treasury is designating the companies listed below under E.O. 13382 on the basis of their relationship to the IRGC. These entities are owned or controlled by the IRGC and its leaders. The IRGC has significant political and economic power in Iran, with ties to companies controlling billions of dollars in business and construction and a growing presence in Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. Through its companies, the IRGC is involved in a diverse array of activities, including petroleum production and major construction projects across the country. In 2006, Khatam al-Anbiya secured deals worth at least $7 billion in the oil, gas, and transportation sectors, among others.
IRGC Individuals: Treasury is designating the individuals below under E.O 13382 on the basis of their relationship to the IRGC. One of the five is listed on the Annex of UNSCR 1737 and the other four are listed on the Annex of UNSCR 1747 as key IRGC individuals.
Other Individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile programs: E.O. 13382 derivative proliferation designation by Treasury of each of the individuals listed below for their relationship to the Aerospace Industries Organization, an entity previously designated under E.O. 13382. Each individual is listed on the Annex of UNSCR 1737 for being involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Support for Terrorism -- Executive Order 13224 Designations
E.O. 13224 is an authority aimed at freezing the assets of terrorists and their supporters, and at isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems. Designations under the E.O. prohibit all transactions between the designees and any U.S. person, and freeze any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF): The Qods Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC; aka Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), provides material support to the Taliban, Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).
The Qods Force is the Iranian regime’s primary instrument for providing lethal support to the Taliban. The Qods Force provides weapons and financial support to the Taliban to support anti-U.S. and anti-Coalition activity in Afghanistan. Since at least 2006, Iran has arranged frequent shipments of small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, plastic explosives, and probably man-portable defense systems to the Taliban. This support contravenes Chapter VII UN Security Council obligations. UN Security Council resolution 1267 established sanctions against the Taliban and UN Security Council resolutions 1333 and 1735 imposed arms embargoes against the Taliban. Through Qods Force material support to the Taliban, we believe Iran is seeking to inflict casualties on U.S. and NATO forces.
The Qods Force has had a long history of supporting Hizballah’s military, paramilitary, and terrorist activities, providing it with guidance, funding, weapons, intelligence, and logistical support. The Qods Force operates training camps for Hizballah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and has reportedly trained more than 3,000 Hizballah fighters at IRGC training facilities in Iran. The Qods Force provides roughly $100 to $200 million in funding a year to Hizballah and has assisted Hizballah in rearming in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
In addition, the Qods Force provides lethal support in the form of weapons, training, funding, and guidance to select groups of Iraqi Shi’a militants who target and kill Coalition and Iraqi forces and innocent Iraqi civilians.
Bank Saderat, its branches, and subsidiaries: Bank Saderat, which has approximately 3200 branch offices, has been used by the Government of Iran to channel funds to terrorist organizations, including Hizballah and EU-designated terrorist groups Hamas, PFLP-GC, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. For example, from 2001 to 2006, Bank Saderat transferred $50 million from the Central Bank of Iran through its subsidiary in London to its branch in Beirut for the benefit of Hizballah fronts in Lebanon that support acts of violence. Hizballah has used Bank Saderat to send money to other terrorist organizations, including millions of dollars on occasion, to support the activities of Hamas. As of early 2005, Hamas had substantial assets deposited in Bank Saderat, and, in the past year, Bank Saderat has transferred several million dollars to Hamas.
Sources: U.S. Department of the Treasury