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Sanctioned Chinese Firm Profits from Transactions with Iran

Li Fangwei, also known as Karl Lee, the person-in-charge of the operation of the Dalian Metallurgy & Minerals Co., a firm sanctioned by the U.S. for exporting missile parts to Iran, is still making millions in profit from the company’s transactions. Several officials responsible for overseeing the Western countries and the United Nations sanctions said that, since 2009, when he was sued by the New York District Attorney, Li Fangwei has received at least US$10 million in profit from illegally trading with Iran.

Trade sanctions are the major means for the international community to stop Iran from developing its nuclear weapons program. Li has been accused of continuing his company’s illegal provision of materials to Iran. This may be related to Iran, which is very clever at evading the international sanctions and may also be related to China’s export restrictions policy. Although it is difficult to quantify the support that foreign companies and individuals have provided to Iran’s nuclear and missile program, analysts believe that Iran cannot independently manufacture some important components.

Li told Reuters that Iran continues to propose the commercial requirements to him, but he provides only legitimate goods, such as iron and steel products. Li also denied the charge that he has sold any missiles or nuclear related products since a few years ago, when the United States began the sanctions against Iran. However security officials overseeing the United Nations’ sanctions accused Li of adopting deceptive means to continue these illegal transactions with Iran, including changing the company’s name in order to sell Iran advanced alloys, Chinese or foreign-made uranium enrichment, and missile parts. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that China has always abided by international regulations on trade restrictions.

Source: BBC Chinese, March 1, 2013