Analysis by PMOI/MEK
May 24, 2019 - The U.S. government announced it is sanctioning the Defense Industry Organization of Iran’s regime, two Russian companies, and a military training center, along with ten Chinese company and three Chinese citizens for violating restrictions imposed on Iran, North Korea, and Syria in regards to weapons of mass destruction.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement saying it has been determined that a number of foreign individuals and entities have been involved in measures violating the third segment of a nonproliferation law in regards to Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
The statement adds that Russia has assigned a number of individuals and entities to cooperate with Iran, North Korea, and Syria. This is a violation of sanctions and restrictions imposed on these countries in reference to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, a Russian center for military training has also been blacklisted for its involvement in training programs for the ground to air missiles.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) is known to be extensively involved in the regime’s ballistic missile development and the proliferation efforts.
An article published in Newsweek magazine on May 22 emphasized on U.S. sanctions targeting a shadowy Chinese weapons dealer involved in China-Iran ballistic missile sales.
The following is an extract from the text of the Newsweek report:
The Donald Trump administration took double-barrelled aim at China and Iran on Wednesday, sanctioning a shadowy Chinese weapons merchant for illegally supplying the Islamic Republic with advanced ballistic missile components.
Karl Lee, also known as Li Fangwei, among several other aliases, “has supplied Iran with the full range of materials required to construct ballistic missiles—everything from highly-accurate guidance and control components to the raw ingredients needed to produce missile propellant,” a senior administration official told Newsweek on terms of anonymity.
The sanctions on Lee and his many shell companies were officially announced in the Federal Register Wednesday, but officials said the relevant congressional committees had been notified they were coming on May 14.
The new sanctions represent just the latest step by three U.S. administrations over a dozen years to curb the activities of Lee, who has been compared to A.Q. Khan, the notorious Pakistani scientist who secretly helped North Korea, Iran and Libya develop nuclear weapons programs beginning in the 1970s. In 2014, the Justice Department indicted Lee in New York for using “a web of front companies” to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, and the FBI posted a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
Despite numerous entreaties by the State Department to at least rein in Lee, Beijing has taken no action to stop him, much less arrest and ship him to New York to stand trial. The U.S. and China do not have an extradition treaty.
“We have engaged China diplomatically, we have sanctioned Karl Lee's activities, we've sanctioned his front companies,” one official said. ”The Chinese message has been, ‘We have him under control. We are watching him. We are limiting his activities.’ That, they are not. He continues to proliferate.”
The officials expressed cold fury at China for allowing Lee to continue selling Iran a wide range of materials critical to its ballistic missiles program, including gyroscopes and accelerometers.
“It comes down to either they don't have the will to stop him or they don't have the ability,” one official said in the not-for-attribution briefing. “Either it's not in control of China or this is another example of corruption where Chinese Communist Party officials take kickbacks to turn a blind eye to the enforcement of law.”
The Trump officials threatened to take further, more serious but unspecified action against China if it didn’t move on Lee this time. “Naming and shaming” Beijing on Lee hasn’t worked in the past.
The U.S. military display of an Iranian Sayyad-2 surface-to-air missile system
On Tuesday, a senior FBI official singled out China and Lee during a congressional hearing. “Lee used his Chinese shell and front companies to surreptitiously exploit the U.S. financial system to supply weapons of mass destruction to Iran,” Steven D’Antuono, acting deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, told the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Although Lee has been linked in the past to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, there was no mention of “weapons of mass destruction” in the current sanctions or administration briefing. An FBI spokesperson declined to clarify the matter.
Administration officials said “all the Gulf countries” should be worried about Lee’s aid to Iran’s missile program, citing Tehran’s part in Iran-backed Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia from Yemen.