Suppliers to an Iran-based carbon fiber and composites manufacturer are among the key targets of the new economic sanctions on Iran announced by the Trump administration on 3 February, in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test. However, these restrictions are outside, and do not affect, the much wider scope of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, agreed on in December 2015 by the United States, its allies, and other leading countries, which lifted most international sanctions against Iran in return for that country abandoning its nuclear weapons program.
Navid Composite Materials (Tehran) is the company at the heart of the supplier network targeted by the latest sanctions. Navid has been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since 2013, as a subsidiary of the US- and UN-designated Sanam Industrial Group, for contracting with Asian suppliers to procure equipment to produce carbon fibers suitable for use in missile components.
Navid operates a carbon fiber plant in the Sepidrud industrial town of Rasht, a project that reportedly began in 2011-12 with investment from the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO). The head of IDRO says this factory should eventually be capable of producing 120 metric tons/year of carbon fiber fabric, 150 metric tons/year of carbon fiber thread, and 600 metric tons/year of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibers. He adds that Navid has also been cooperating with IDRO on a 450-billion Iranian rial ($13.9 million) project to produce special PAN fibers and advanced carbon fibers.
Suppliers targeted by the latest US sanctions include Ervin Danesh Aryan Co. (Tehran), which OFAC says is providing, or attempting to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services in support of Navid Composites. OFAC says that Mostafa Zahedi, an employee of Ervin Danesh Aryan Co., has sought to acquire carbon fiber production equipment from foreign suppliers. He has also procured or attempted to procure equipment via Mabrooka Trading, a subsidiary created to procure previously sanctioned carbon fiber-related production equipment from outside Iran. Mabrooka and several Iranian and Asian companies and individuals were sanctioned in January 2016 for their involvement in the program. OFAC says Zahedi and Hossein Pournaghshband, a director of Mabrooka Trading, have procured equipment from foreign suppliers for Mohammad Magham, managing director of Navid Composite and Navid Composite’s PAN-based carbon fiber production line since at least 2014. Magham himself has also been added to the sanctions list for contracting with other Iran-based companies to acquire PAN fibers in mid-2015.
Kambiaz Rostamian, CEO of MKS International (Tehran)—who is based in Dubai—and MKS itself have also been sanctioned for procuring materials for Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization and its offshoot Shahid Bakeri Industries Group, which are responsible for the country’s ballistic missile program. Also sanctioned is the MKS front company, Royal Pearl General Trading (Dubai), which also operates as Royal Pearl Chemical. All of these companies are said to have supplied analytical systems and quality-control equipment to the program.
Reem Pharmaceutical, a supplier of generic and branded prescription drugs and over-the-counter products, based in Beirut, Lebanon, has also been included in the latest US sanctions.
In total, OFAC sanctioned 13 Iranian individuals and 12 companies for involvement in the ballistic missile program as well as for acting on behalf of, or providing support to, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp.—Qods Force, which it describes as a sponsor of international terrorism. The sanctions freeze any assets these individuals and companies have under US jurisdiction and prohibit US citizens and companies from having any dealings with them.