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WikiLeaks

A Tehran-based Iranian shoe manufacturer and agricultural exporter told Baku Iran Watcher that he and other export/importers utilizing the Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran route and reverse are occasionally approached by known regime insiders or representatives of Iranian security for “help” in bringing in mis-labeled shipments into and out of Iran. Reasons for these shipments range from sanctions-busting to tax/tariff avoidance and/or financial fraudulence within Iran. He asserted that the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhchivan is commonly utilized for bringing sensitive and sanction-busting items into Iran. The manufacturer also commented on narcotics problems in Iran, relating that his Tehran factory provides workers daily “narcotics” breaks every morning “otherwise they can’t work for the rest of the day.”


 

Source: WikiLeaks

Reference Created Classification Origin
09BAKU178 2009-03-06 10:49 SECRET Embassy Baku

 

VZCZCXRO1980
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHKB #0178/01 0651049
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 061049Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0870
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 3275
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0809
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAKU 000178

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2019
TAGS: PREL ETTC SNAR ETRD AM RU AJ IR
SUBJECT: “DO US A FAVOR”: IRANIAN EXPORTER DISCUSSES REGIME
PRESSURES, SMUGGLING ROUTES, AND IRAN NARCOTICS PROBLEM

REF: A) BAKU 175 B) 2008 BAKU 982

Classified By: ROB GARVERICK, POLECON COUNSELOR, REASON 1.5 (B and D)

Summary
——–

¶1. (S) A Tehran-based Iranian shoe manufacturer and
agricultural exporter told Baku Iran Watcher that he and
other export/importers utilizing the Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran
route and reverse are occasionally approached by known regime
insiders or representatives of Iranian security for “help” in
bringing in mis-labeled shipments into and out of Iran.
Reasons for these shipments range from sanctions-busting to
tax/tariff avoidance and/or financial fraudulence within
Iran. He asserted that the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhchivan
is commonly utilized for bringing sensitive and
sanction-busting items into Iran. The manufacturer also
commented on narcotics problems in Iran, relating that his
Tehran factory provides workers daily “narcotics” breaks
every morning “otherwise they can’t work for the rest of the
day.” End Summary.

Iranian Exporter-Importers…
—————————–

¶2. (S) Shahzad is an Iranian shoe manufacturer and
agricultural commodities exporter with a factory in the
southern part of Tehran. Shahzad does considerable exporting
to Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine and visits Baku on
business every six weeks or so. In a lunch meeting with Baku
Iran watcher and a mutual friend he commented at length about
aspects of Iranian export-import through Azerbaijan,
outlining some “tricks of the trade.” He also related
approaches by Iranian regime-affiliated organizations and
individuals to himself and other established Iranian traders
for various “favors,” including assistance in transporting
falsely-labeled goods either into or out of Iran.

Are Pressed to Do Favors
————————

¶3. (S) Shahzad said that many well-established Iranian
traders are occasionally asked to assist in the hidden export
of certain materials from Iran that are either illicit,
export-restricted, or simply not entitled to any form of
export credit. He said that it is very difficult to overtly
refuse doing these “favors,” as “everybody has something to
hide” that may be used against them if they do not cooperate.
(Note: Other Iranian contacts have noted that many Iranian
commercial and export-import laws are routinely ignored. See
ref B for an example of how this may be exploited by Iranian
intelligence or well-connected individuals to target a
specific company. End Note).

Fraudulent Labeling
——————-

¶4. (S) He said that the items are transported in falsely
labeled boxes which are accompanied by false bills of lading.
The fraudulent documents indicate that what is being
exported are low or no-tariff items that also enable the
exporter to earn tax credits or export subsidies from the
Iranian government. Shahzad asserted that persons tied to
the Revolutionary Guard or other elements of the regime are
commonly partners/instigators in such frauds. Shahzad said
that Jabrail Naveed “Azerbaijani” (ref A), whom he claimed to
know well, is frequent a go-between with the Azerbaijani
authorities in this business, which he called “a common
game.” (Note: According to other sources, Naveed has close
relations with the Iranian authorities. He was the head of
the Iran Trader’s Association in Azerbaijan until its closing
in the late 1990’s. End Note.)

Sanctions-Busting Via Nakhchivan
——————————–

¶5. (S) Shahzad also described practices often followed in
bringing sensitive or sanctioned items into (as opposed to
out of) Iran. According to Shahzad, these materials are
commonly procured in third countries, falsely labeled, and

BAKU 00000178 002 OF 002

brought into Azerbaijan as imports to that country. Once in
Azerbaijan, they are airlifted to the Azerbaijani enclave of
Nakhchivan (which borders Iran), and subsequently moved
across the border. Shahzad said that sometimes the items are
moved through the Iran border crossing at night during times
when it is officially closed. He said that last year he was
dragooned into cooperating in one such venture, and never
knew what it was he was actually “importing.” Shahzad
claimed that this particular smuggling job was canceled at
the last moment, as “they decided to bring the stuff in via
Pakistan.”

Routes Through Occupied Territories Usable – But Why Bother?
——————————————— ————–

¶6. (S) Shahzad noted that a large swatch of Azerbaijan’s
“Occupied Territory” (i.e., territory currently controlled by
the so-called “Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh”) borders Iran.
He confirmed that roads entering this area from Iran exist,
though it was previously never the site of official border
crossings. While speculating that some illicit items are
likely being transported from or into Iran along these
routes, Shahzad stressed that he has no personal knowledge
about it. He also questioned the likelihood of substantial
use of this notional route, “since moving items across the
legal (i.e. Azerbaijan-occupied) border is already quite
easy.”

Daily “Narcotics Break”
———————–

¶7. (C) In addition to exporting agricultural commodities and
seeds (including cotton seeds) from Iran, Shahzad and a
partner own a shoe factory in south Tehran with about sixty
workers. Shahzad said that the factory is in a bad district,
and asserted that “90 percent” of the adults in that area use
narcotics. He said that the situation is so bad that at ten
o’clock every morning his factory has a “narcotics break” so
that his employees can take time to shoot up. “Otherwise
they won’t be able to work for the rest of the day,” he
claimed.

¶8. (C) Shahzad observed that heroin, crystal meth, opium,
and crack are easily available, and said that they are often
offered (euphemistically) by waiters at tea houses. He
accused the Iranian government of pursuing a double standard
in combating drug addiction, focusing its attention and funds
on ethnic Persians while “ignoring” drug addiction problems
among Kurds, Lurs, Baluchis, and other minorities.

DERSE


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