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Donald Trump has withdrawn the US from the nuclear deal and one of his chief complaints was that the agreement had failed to tackle Iran’s missile capabilities.


Malaysian police question Al Jazeera journalists over report on immigrants

Updated 11 min 36 sec ago

Malaysian police question Al Jazeera journalists over report on immigrants

  • Al Jazeera journalists under investigation for sedition following the broadcast of a documentary about the mistreatment of migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur
  • The 25-minute documentary, titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown,” was broadcast as part of Al Jazeera’s “101 East” documentary strand on July 3

KUALA LUMPUR: Six members of staff from state-owned Qatari news broadcaster Al Jazeera were questioned by police in Malaysia on Friday.

They are under investigation for sedition following the broadcast of a documentary about the mistreatment of migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur during the coronavirus lockdown.

“The documentary has ignited a backlash among the public,” said national police chief Abdul Hamid Bador. “During our investigation, we found out there were inaccuracies in the documentary that were aimed at creating a bad image of Malaysia.”

He said police have discussed the case with the attorney general and added: “We are going to give a fair investigation and a fair opportunity for them to defend themselves, in case the AG wants to file charges against them.”

The journalists, accompanied by their lawyers, were questioned at police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

The 25-minute documentary, titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown,” was broadcast as part of Al Jazeera’s “101 East” documentary strand on July 3. It highlighted the plight of undocumented migrants reportedly arrested during raids on COVID-19 lockdown hotspots. Malaysian officials said the report was inaccurate and misleading.

On Thursday, Al Jazeera said it refutes the charges and “stands by the professionalism, quality and impartiality of its journalism” and has “serious concerns about developments that have occurred in Malaysia since the broadcast of the documentary.” It added: “Al Jazeera is deeply concerned that its staff are now subject to a police investigation.”

However, the incident highlights the broadcaster’s double standards in reporting issues about migrant workers. When Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Qatar in February of failing to implement a system to ensure construction companies pay migrant workers on time, the issue was not highlighted by Al Jazeera, the headquarters of which is in Doha.

On May 23, migrant workers staged a rare protest in Qatar over unpaid wages but Al Jazeera did not send reporters to interview the demonstrators.

Also in May, HRW said that crowded and unsanitary conditions at Doha Central Prison were exacerbating the COVID-19 threat. The organization urged Qatar to reduce the size of prison populations and ensure inmates have access to adequate medical care, along with masks, sanitizer and gloves. Again Al Jazeera did not focus on the issue.

Activists and civil-society groups criticized the Malaysian government for its heavy-handed move against Al Jazeera.

“The Malaysian government should stop trying to intimidate the media when it reports something the powers that be don’t like,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division. “The reality is Malaysia has treated migrant workers very shoddily and Al Jazeera has caught them out on it.”

Nalini Elumalai, the Malaysia program officer for freedom of speech advocacy group Article 19, said the action against Al Jazeera is alarming and akin to “shooting the messenger.”

She added: “The government should instead initiate an independent inquiry into the issues raised in the documentary.”

There are at least 2 million migrant workers in Malaysia, though the true number is thought to be much higher as many are undocumented. They are a source of cheap, low-skilled labor in industries considered dirty and dangerous.