UK Border staff ‘seize missile parts that were being sent to Iran’ at Heathrow

Iran has continued to expand its missile arsenal despite the deal with international powers signed in 2015 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. (AFP)
Updated 02 August 2018

UK Border staff ‘seize missile parts that were being sent to Iran’ at Heathrow

  • The parts were described as being sent for use in Iran’s oil industry, but UK Border Force staff stopped the shipment
  • Two ‘O rings’ — small components made of rubber used to form seals in warheads to stop leakages — were detected

LONDON: Attempts to ship missile parts to Iran have been thwarted by UK border agents at Heathrow Airport.
Two ‘O rings’ — small components made of rubber used to form seals in warheads to stop leakages — were detected during an inspection of cargo leaving the airport, according to a report in London’s Evening Standard.
The parts were described as being sent for use in Iran’s oil industry. But UK Border Force staff stopped the shipment, suspecting that they were actually going to be used in the construction of missiles.
Monique Wrench, UK Border Force’s deputy director at Heathrow Airport, told the newspaper: “We had a couple of O rings that we identified. O rings are pieces of rubber that go between tubes to stop leakage to seal them. They can be used in oil, but they can also be used for warheads and the like. Our staff stopped them from going to Iran.
“It is a component part. It looked like it was going to an oil refinery. But the dots don’t quite join up here.”
Wrench refused to comment on whether any arrests were made in connection with the incident and confirmed that an investigation was being launched by HM Revenue and Customs.
The selling, supplying or transportation of missile-related goods or technology to Iran is banned in the UK, and those found guilty face heavy fines and a possible prison sentence.
In June, UN tests found that Houthi militia missiles fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen had been manufactured in Iran.
Col. Turki Al-Maliki of the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthis said last month that as many as 163 ballistic missiles and 66,362 projectiles have targeted Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the military operations.
Iran has continued to expand its missile arsenal despite the deal with international powers signed in 2015 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Donald Trump has withdrawn the US from the nuclear deal and one of his chief complaints was that the agreement had failed to tackle Iran’s missile capabilities.


Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

  • Concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as ‘onerous and disadvantageous’ to the public
  • Existing concessions will expire on 2022, but were subsequently extended by 15 years
MANILA: The Philippines’ water regulator said on Wednesday it has canceled the 15-year extension of concession deals it signed with the country’s two largest utilities after pressure from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte described the concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as “onerous and disadvantageous” to the public, prompting them to be revoked in a move that could turn off investors at a time the government is seeking foreign capital to modernize its infrastructure.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the country’s regulator, told lawmakers it had revoked last week a decision extending the water concession deals with the two utilities until 2037, sending their shares tumbling more than 13 percent. The existing concessions will expire on 2022.
The firms, which are servicing a combined 16 million customers, secured 25-year concession agreements in 1997, which were extended in 2009 by a further 15 years.
Duterte acted after Manila Water and Maynilad won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
The arbitration court in Singapore ordered the Philippines government to pay the utilities a combined 10.8 billion pesos ($212.14 million) in compensation. The companies had said they would forfeit any damage claims to avoid angering the president.
“These companies not only have inefficiently delivered water to the households, but exacted unconscionable amounts from the taxpayers,” Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The water utilities’ woes display a violation of the sanctity of contracts, Guenter Taus, former president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, told Reuters.
“It does not instill investor’s confidence. You can’t just go out and revoke contracts,” Taus said.
The embattled companies’ shares continued their decline on Wednesday, with Manila Water slumping 14 percent.
Maynilad stockholders Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc. sank 13 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively.
Manila Water president Jose Rene Almendras told lawmakers the company has yet to study the impact of the regulator’s decision.
“There should be a clean process because we have commitments both in terms of capital expenditures, projects and loans,” Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado said.