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'Iran's European Helpers'

9:25 PM, Sep 29, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Mark Dubowitz and Benjamin Weinthal write in the Wall Street Journal

The European Union in July imposed unprecedented sanctions against Iran's energy and financial sectors. But despite the crackdown, some European companies continue to sign up for business deals in Iran that may be both directly and indirectly supporting Iran's nuclear-weapons development.

Take the example of Ceresola TLS. According to a hard copy of the confirmation of a contract we have obtained, the Swiss firm recently signed an agreement worth over €1 billion with Rahab Engineering Establishment in Tehran. According to the contract, Ceresola has agreed to provide Rahab with tunneling technology to facilitate the construction of a metro line in Iran. But in the past, the regime in Tehran has used similar agreements to help hide its nuclear-weapons program. Although the confirmation order lists the deal as a project for a metro line, obtaining heavy earth-moving equipment and technology is also a top priority for Iran's nuclear program. Tehran needs this know-how to hide military nuclear installations deep underground, as it did with the Qom and Natanz enrichment facilities.

A June United Nations resolution lists the similarly named Rahab Engineering Institute as one of the firms involved in "nuclear or ballistic missile activities," and says the Institute is owned by the government's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Given Iran's history of simply renaming sanctioned firms or using front companies, it may be no coincidence that both businesses have their offices on the same Valiasr Street in Tehran. Ceresola manager Doris Ceresola, whose name is listed on the confirmation order, refused to comment when asked about the possibility that Rahab Engineering Establishment and Rahab Engineering Institute could be one and the same company.

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