United Arab Emirates Transshipment Milestones - 1971-2009

The Risk Report
Volume 15 Number 4 (July-August 2009)

 

1971: The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is formed by Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Umm al Quwain. Ras Al Khaimah joins the U.A.E. in 1972.

1972: The U.A.E. signs the Biological Weapons Convention.

1972: Port Zayed opens in Abu Dhabi. Port Rashid opens in Dubai.

1976: The U.A.E.'s first container terminal opens in Port Khalid, Sharjah.

1977: Saqr Port opens in Ras Al Khaimah.

1979: Jebel Ali Port, asserted to be the largest man-made harbor in the world, opens in Dubai.

1982: Fujairah Port opens.

1982: Alfred Hempel of West Germany sends seventy tons of heavy water from China to Dubai, from where sixty tons are forwarded to India and ten tons to Argentina. At this time India is pursuing and Argentina is interested in atomic weapons.

1983: Hempel delivers to India, via the U.A.E, fifteen tons of heavy water from Norway and 6.7 tons from the Soviet Union.

1983: Hank Slebos, of the Netherlands, reportedly tries to export a high-speed oscilloscope without a license to the U.A.E.'s Assaf Electrical Establishment. The ultimate destination is believed to be Pakistan, and in 1985 Slebos is reportedly jailed for one year for exporting strategically sensitive material.

1985: Jebel Ali Free Zone is established in Dubai. Companies are exempt from all domestic capital and ownership requirements, import and export duties, and personal and corporate taxes.

1985: According to documents from Germany's customs investigation unit, employees of Leybold-Heraeus manufacture uranium enrichment components that are sent to Dubai via Switzerland and France. French investigators reportedly allege the final recipient is Pakistan.

July - August 1985: Alfred Hempel sends to India, through the U.A.E., 6.8 tons of Soviet heavy water that could have been used to start the uninspected Dhruva reactor.

1987: Fujairah International Airport opens.

1987: Fujairah Free Zone is established adjacent to Fujairah Port and near to Fujairah International Airport. Companies in the zone are exempt from all domestic ownership requirements and import duties on goods for re-export.

1987: Iranian officials reportedly meet associates of Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan, a Pakistani citizen, in Dubai. Iran is reportedly offered a phased supply of centrifuge drawings, as many as 2,000 centrifuges and auxiliary items, including casting equipment for manufacturing a bomb core.

1988: Ajman Free Zone is established. Companies in the zone are exempt from all domestic capital and ownership requirements, income and corporate taxes, and import and export duties.

1988: Ahmed Bin Rashed Free Zone is established in Umm Al Quwain. Companies in the zone are exempt from corporate taxes as well as import and export duties.

March 1989: A firm owned by the Indian government reportedly ships sixty tons of thionyl chloride, which can be used to manufacture mustard gas and nerve agents, to Iran via Dubai.

May - June 1989: One hundred metric tons of centrifuge-grade maraging steel are reportedly delivered from Belgium through Dubai to Iraq.

June 1989: Rheineisen Chemical Products arranges for 257 tons of thionyl chloride, a mustard gas and nerve agent precursor, to be shipped from India to Dubai's Shatif Trading Company for transshipment to Iran. Rheineisen, a West German firm owned by an Iranian family, cancels the contract amid concerns about its legitimacy, and the chemical is returned from Dubai to India. Seyed Kharim Ali Sobhani, an Iranian diplomat who had brokered three shipments of thiodiglycol (a precursor of mustard gas) from the U.S to Iran between 1987 and 1988, is reportedly implicated in the deal.

1990: A Greek intermediary claiming to represent A.Q. Khan offers Iraq an atomic bomb design, promising that any required materials could be procured from Western countries and shipped via Dubai.

1991 - 1994: According to a U.S. indictment, seven persons conspire to export, without the required license, $500,000 of sensitive U.S. electronics to Iran. Controlled goods, including encryption devices, are allegedly shipped via Hanofeel General Trading Est. of Dubai to Iran's Tak Neda Co. Ltd. Elham Abrishami, of Afshein, Inc. in the U.S., pleads guilty in 1997.

1991: The management of Port Rashid and Jebel Ali Port is combined under Dubai Ports Authority. Dubai Ports Authority is the sixteenth busiest container harbor in the world, with a capacity of over one million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units).

1993: The U.A.E. signs the Chemical Weapons Convention.

1993: A third berth is commissioned for Sharjah's Khorfakkan Container Terminal.

1994 - 1995: Bukary Syed Abu (B.S.A.) Tahir, a Sri Lankan based in Dubai, allegedly organizes the transshipment of two containers of centrifuge components from Dubai to Iran, on behalf of A.Q. Khan, for $3 million.

1995: Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF-Zone) is established. Companies in the zone are exempt from all domestic ownership and capital requirements, import and export duties, and personal and corporate taxes.

September 1995: The U.A.E. signs the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

November 1995: Hamriyah Free Zone is established in Sharjah. Companies in the zone are exempt from all domestic ownership and capital requirements, import and export duties, and personal and corporate taxes.

1996: Ajman Free Zone is granted autonomous status by the ruler of Ajman.

1996: Dubai Airport Free Zone is established near the Dubai Cargo Village. Companies in the zone are exempt from all domestic capital and ownership requirements, import and export duties, and personal and corporate taxes.

1996: The German government warns its exporters that Iranian companies active in procurement for weapons programs are present in Dubai. Among the entities named are Iran's State Purchasing Organization and Bonyad Mostazafan and Janbazan Foundation.

June 1996: Dubai's Guide Oil Equipment Company is identified in a U.S. court as a corporation that ships impregnated alumina, which can be used in the manufacture of nerve gas, through Dubai or the United Kingdom to Iran. In 1998 Abdol Hamid Rashidian and Henry Joseph Trojack are convicted for conspiring to ship impregnated alumina to Iran.

July 1996 - March 1998: IGI, Inc. sold $400,000 of poultry vaccine from the U.S. to Iran via Dubai, violating the U.S. embargo on Iran.

1997 - 1998: Pars Company Inc. of the U.S. illegally exports two STX gas monitors via the U.A.E. to Iran and is fined $10,000. The monitors can be used in chemical and biological weapons production.The U.S. Department of Commerce subsequently imposes a nine year denial of export privileges in 2002. The U.S. firm Industrial Scientific Corporation is also implicated and pays a $30,000 fine.

1998: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Jabal Damavand General Trading Company of Dubai transfers U.S.-origin ferrography laboratory equipment to Iran without authorization. In 2002 the U.S. bans Jabal Damavand for ten years from engaging in any activity subject to the Export Administration Regulations.

March 1998: According to later reporting by the U.S. government's Iraq Survey Group (I.S.G.), the Iraqi Intelligence Service is using bribes to circumvent customs inspections in Dubai, which is a transshipment point for military equipment being sought from Romania.

May 1998: A new Sun Ultra Enterprise 1 Work Station is located in Iraq's National Computer Center, which was involved in Iraq's nuclear weapons program. Iraq claims to have imported workstations from the U.A.E. and Jordan.

May 1998 - June 1999: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Dubai's Ibn Khaldoon Drug Store Est. participates in the unauthorized export of medical equipment from the U.S. to Iran, in contravention of the U.S. embargo. Ibn Khaldoon is ordered in 2004 to pay a $40,000 fine.

May 1998 - May 2002: Biocheck Inc. of the U.S. allegedly exports medical diagnostic kits without authorization to Iran via Italy, and the U.A.E. Biocheck is later fined $32,000 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and pays the U.S. Department of Commerce $22,500.

September 1998 - February 2001: NEC Engineers of India allegedly sends ten shipments of materials used in the manufacture of rocket propellant and missiles to Dubai and Jordan without the required export license. Indian court documents state that the consignments, shipped for $791,343, "appear to have been diverted to Iraq for assisting their weapon building programme," violating the U.N. embargo. The Dubai companies Target General Land Transport and Indjo Trading are reportedly involved.

November 1998 - February 2000: Mohammad Farahbakhsh, co-owner and managing director of Dubai's Diamond Technology LLC, allegedly tries to export U.S. computer items to Iran via Diamond Technology. The alleged purchaser is Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which is a branch of the Iranian Ministry of Defence and subject to U.S. sanctions for its involvement in cruise and ballistic missile development.

1998 - 2000: Mazyar Gavidel and his company Homa International Trading Corp. violate the U.S. trade embargo against Iran by illegally transferring approximately $2 million of laundered money through Dubai. Gavidel and Homa International are convicted by the U.S. in August 2002.

January 1999: Abu Bakar Siddiqui, a British exporter of Pakistani origin and an alleged procurement agent for A.Q. Khan, allegedly attempts to ship special aluminum sheets to Dubai.

May 1999: British customs authorities reportedly seize up to twenty tons of components, including high-grade aluminum, believed to be ultimately destined for Pakistan. The cargo arrived from the U.S. and was allegedly about to be shipped to Dubai. The exporter is allegedly Siddiqui, who is convicted in the United Kingdom in 2001 for illegally exporting strategic materials to Pakistan, including high-strength aluminum bars.

2000: Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone is established near Saqr Port. Companies in the zone are exempt from all domestic ownership and capital requirements, as well as income and corporate taxes.

2001: U.A.E. companies act as intermediaries in the partial delivery of fiber-optic and military communications contracts from South Korea to Iraq, according to the I.S.G.

2001: Dubai's Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation is established to take over customs operations from the Dubai Ports Authority and Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority.

2001: Trade with Iran exchanged through Dubai's ports was twelve billion dirhams this year, an increase from 4.3 billion in 1997.

May 2001 - December 2005: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Mine Safety Appliances Company's Abu Dhabi branch allegedly illegally re-exported U.S. safety and protection-related items from the U.A.E. to Iran and Syria 107 times.

June 2001: Bef Corp. allegedly exports photo finishing equipment to SK of Dubai, which transships the equipment to Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

September 2001: The U.A.E.'s Advance Technical Systems (ATS) purchases $16,000 of military radar components from the U.S. and transships them to Pakistan after declaring that they were for the Bangladeshi Air Force. Tariq Ahmed, reported owner of ATS, and Yasmin Ahmed, ATS sales representative, plead guilty in June 2003 to conspiring to illegally export parts for howitzers, radars and armored personnel carriers.

September 2001 - March 2003: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.A.E.-based Super Net Computers, L.L.C. orders super servers, motherboards, and computer chassis from the U.S. and forwards them to Iran.

October 2001: A U.A.E.-based firm facilitates trade in ballistic missile-related goods from China to Iraq, according to the I.S.G.

December 2001 - March 2002: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Dubai's Teepad Electronic General Trading exports controlled telecommunications devices from the U.S. to Iran.

February 2002 - November 2008: According to a U.S. indictment, Mohammad Reza Vaghari and Mir Hossein Ghaemi, Iranians residing in the U.S., allegedly export laboratory equipment and fuel cell systems to Iran via the U.A.E.

April 2002: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Tariq Ahmed also attempts to illegally export components for an online chemical monitoring system from the U.S. to the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) in Pakistan via the U.A.E.

May 2002: The German government warns its exporters that since 1998 Iraq has been increasingly engaging in procurement activities through Dubai. Germany believes that North Korea has also increased its operations in Dubai.

August 2002: The U.S. firm Mercator, Inc. agrees to a $30,000 settlement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which had alleged that Mercator exported chemicals to Dubai with the knowledge that they would be re-exported to Iran without prior authorization.

November 2002 - August 2004: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S.-based State of the Art, Inc. allegedly filed seven Shipper's Export Declarations (SED) falsely reporting the ultimate destination of fixed resistors as the U.A.E., when India was the ultimate destination.

December 2002: The U.S. Navy accuses Dubai's Naif Marine Services of smuggling to Iraq polymers that could be used to manufacture explosives.

2003: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. company SparesGlobal, Inc. illegally exports to the U.A.E. restricted graphite products that can be used in nuclear reactors and nose cones of ballistic missiles; the products are then forwarded to Pakistan.

January 2003: Spare parts for Mirage F-1 aircraft and Gazelle attack helicopters are transferred to Iraq. U.S. intelligence reportedly believes that parts were purchased from France by Dubai's Al Tamoor Trading Co., and then smuggled to Iraq through a third country, reportedly Turkey.

May 2003 - February 2004: Mohammad Farahbakhsh allegedly exports a U.S. satellite communications system to Iran via U.A.E.-based Diamond Technology LLC without the required license.

May 2003 - January 2004: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, John Nakkashian, then Vice President at Air Shunt Instruments Inc., allegedly exports military components, including components for the J85 engine used on the F-5 fighter jet, from the U.S. to Dubai without the required licenses.

October 2003: Sixty-six triggered spark gaps, which can be used to detonate nuclear weapons, are shipped without the required license from the United States to Top-Cape Technology in South Africa. They are subsequently transshipped via Dubai to AJMC Lithographic Aid Society in Pakistan. In 2004 Asher Karni, an Israeli living in South Africa, pleads guilty to conspiring to export controlled commodities to Pakistan without validated export licenses. In 2005 the U.S. indicts Humayun Khan of the Pakistani company Pakland PME for violating export restrictions and being the ultimate purchaser.

October 2003: Five containers of centrifuge components, sent by B.S.A. Tahir and shipped through Dubai, are seized en route to Libya. The items are part of four shipments made by Malaysia's Scomi Precision Engineering (SCOPE) between 2002 and 2003 to Dubai's Aryash Trading Company.

October 2003: According to B.S.A. Tahir, the BBC China, the ship carrying the seized centrifuge components, was also transporting an aluminum casting and dynamo for Libya's centrifuge workshop. The consignment was allegedly sent via Dubai by TUT Shipping on behalf of Gunas Jireh of Turkey.

October 2003: Two weeks after the seizure of the centrifuge components, B.S.A. Tahir arranges the transshipment to Libya, via Dubai, of an electrical cabinet and power supplier-voltage regulator on behalf of Selim Alguadis, an associate of A.Q. Khan.

December 2003: Hamid Fathaloloomy, principal of Dubai's Akeed Trading Company, allegedly attempts to export U.S. pressure sensors to Iran.

2003 - 2006: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Engineering Physics Software Inc. is allegedly involved in sixteen exports of controlled engineering software programs to Iran via the U.A.E., without the required authorizations.

January 2004 - November 2006: According to a U.S. indictment, Ali Akbar Yahya and Farrokh Nia Yaghmaei, managers of Mayrow General Trading, allegedly use the Mayrow, Majidco and Micatic companies to export electronic components that could be used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from the U.S. to the U.A.E., and then forward the components to Iran.

January 2004 - May 2008: According to a U.S. indictment, Baktash Fattahi and ten other defendants allegedly export military aircraft parts to Iran via the U.A.E.

2004: Over 400 companies are operating in the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone, 38% of which are Indian.The Dubai Ports Authority's capacity passes six million TEU.

February 2004: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Proclad International Pipelines Ltd. allegedly attempts to export nickel alloy pipes from the U.S. to Iran via the U.A.E. without the required authorization.

April 2004: Elmstone Service and Trading FZE is sanctioned for two years by the United States for transferring to Iran equipment and/or technology of proliferation significance since 1999.

Spring 2004 - Spring 2007: According to a U.S. indictment, Yousef Boushvash allegedly exports U.S. military aviation parts to Dubai without the required licenses.

June 2004: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Matthew Ayadpoor, based in the U.S., allegedly attempts to illegally export piston-type differential pressure gauges to Iran via the U.A.E.

August 2004: The U.S. indicts Khalid Mahmood, of Dubai, for breaking the U.S. embargo to Iran. Mahmood allegedly attempted to arrange the sale of forklift radiators from the U.S. to Iran by concealing the final destination in the sale.

September 2004: The I.S.G. lists twenty U.A.E. firms that are suspected of having acted as intermediaries or front companies for Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and says that the U.A.E. was a transit location for prohibited goods. The I.S.G. also concludes that the U.A.E. and Iran were the most frequent destinations for Iraqi smuggled oil.

September 2004: According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mohammad Fazeli of Los Angeles allegedly orders 103 pressure sensors and attempts to export them from the U.S. to the U.A.E. without the required authorization. The sensors are intended to be forwarded to Iran.

December 2004: The U.A.E. agrees to join the U.S.' Container Security Initiative (C.S.I.) . U.S. customs officials will be stationed in Dubai to help target and screen suspect cargo bound for the United States.

2005: More than 300 Iranian companies are known to have operated in Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone.

2005: Dubai is the sixth largest port in the world for container traffic.

January 2005: According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S.-based Select Engineering, Inc. allegedly sold and/or caused to be transported medical equipment from the U.S. to Iran via the U.A.E. without the required authorization.

February 2005: The Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority launches an expansion project to develop its manufacturing in industry specific sectors, including medical products, food processing and the chemicals sector.

March 2005: Dubai's participation in the C.S.I. becomes operational.

April 2005 - March 2007: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, George Frank Myles, Jr. illicitly supplies military aviation parts to an Iranian national, who picks up some of the parts in Dubai, U.A.E.
May 2005: Dubai signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. to join the Megaports Initiative,which is intended to detect and seize shipments of radioactive material.

July 2005: The German government warns its exporters that trading companies in Dubai are being used in proliferation activities, especially with Iran.

Fall 2005: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. resident Mojtada Maleki-Gomi attempted to evade the U.S. embargo against Iran by shipping textile machinery from the U.S. to Iran via Dubai.

August 2006 - February 2007: According to a U.S. indictment, Ireland-based Mac Aviation allegedly arranges the export of U.S. origin aircraft parts to Dubai with invoices indicating that their final destination is Iran.

October 2006 - June 2007: According to a U.S. indictment, naturalized U.S. citizens Hassan Saied Keshari and Traian Bujduveanu allegedly procure U.S.-made military aircraft parts and cause them to be exported to Dubai and then forwarded to Iran.

May 2007: Reza Tabib is sentenced by the U.S. government for illegally exporting U.S. military aircraft parts to Iran via associates in Germany and the U.A.E.

August 2007: The U.A.E. enacts a law for the control of exports and re-exports of strategic goods, including military equipment, chemical and biological materials, and dual-use items. The law also establishes a National Commission for oversight.

March 2008: U.A.E. authorities reportedly disrupt the import and re-export of 240 kg of zirconium.

May 2008: Afshin Rezaei is sentenced by the U.S. government for the unlicensed export of computers from the U.S. to Iran via the U.A.E.

August 2008: U.A.E. authorities impound a Malaysian shipment of specialized aluminum tubes that can be used for aeronautical and military purposes. U.A.E. authorities also seize a Chinese shipment of titanium sheets bound for Iran.

September 2008: Based on U.S. intelligence, U.A.E. authorities impound a Chinese shipment of specialized aluminum sheets that can be used for ballistic missiles.

February 2009: The U.A.E. Committee on Commodities Subject to Import and Export Control is reportedly created to strengthen and develop implementation of the U.A.E.'s Federal Export Control Law. The Committee holds its first meeting in May.

March 2009: The International Atomic Energy Agency reportedly approves the U.A.E.'s ratification of the Additional Protocol, allowing additional nuclear inspection measures in the country.

April 2009: Canadian authorities charge Toronto resident Mahmoud Yadegari with attempting to ship ten U.S. pressure transducers, which can be used for uranium enrichment, from the U.S. to Iran via Dubai.