Britain has acknowledged selling military equipment to Iran despite an embargo on arms sales to the Islamic republic, reported the Middle East Newsline (MENL).
Officials were quoted as saying that the systems approved were meant for Iran's battle against insurgents and drug traffickers along the Afghan and Pakistan border. They said no weapons were sold.
The British military sales to Iran were cited in the latest report by the foreign office. The report said approvals of British export licenses to Iran decreased during the year 2000.
Last year, the government approved 60 out of 80 applications worth $29 million for exports to Iran. In 1999, 84 out of 99 license applications were approved in sales worth $53 million, according to the report.
The report said Britain approved the sale of night-vision equipment meant to monitor insurgents and drug smugglers. The system was relayed to troops along the Iranian border. Another system approved for sale was that of an industrial turbine, which could be used in military jet engines.
The UK Home Office denied two military requests from Iran last year. London imposed sanctions on Tehran more than a decade ago.
Iran has sought international help in its war on drugs, in which thousands of members of the security forces have lost their lives.
AFP quoted Mohammad Fallah as saying that some 5 million drug-related files were currently being examined by the judiciary, while a total of 350,000 people were arrested throughout the last Iranian year which ended in March 2001, the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, reported.
A total of 1,083 drug traffickers were killed over the same period of time, while 1,378 people were taken hostage by smugglers, Fallah added.
Iran, a major transit point between drug producers in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the markets of Europe and the Gulf, has been mounting a crackdown on drugs, although security forces seize only about one-tenth of the estimated 2,000 tons of drugs that pass through the country each year – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )