A barrage of cruise missile attacks against targets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia by missiles manufactured in Iran was made possible with parts procured in Turkey, according to findings submitted to the UN Security Council.
The revelations were made when UN investigators probed the chain of custody of several components recovered from the debris of missiles used in attacks on Saudi Arabia as well as those seized in the Gulf of Aden. The evidence led to the discovery that a key component used in the manufacturing of the missiles was imported from Germany by a Turkish company in 2016.
The component identified as 30.600 G OEM Pressure Transmitter was originally produced by German company BD Sensors and was used in the fuel-feed system of the missile. According to UN documents, the German company shipped the transmitter to the Istanbul-based Lonca Makina Sanayi Ticaret A.Ş., its only authorized distributer in Turkey.
The discovery is hardly surprising to observers of Turkey-Iran cooperation in sanctions busting techniques. Faced with US sanctions, Iran has extensively been using neighboring Turkey to procure critical components, especially for dual-use goods, to support its defense industry and produce arms and weapons, some of which it exported to fuel regional conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. Tehran has been significantly helped by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who considers Iran his second home and actively works to facilitate Iran’s operations in Turkey and other countries.
UN document listed a Turkish company as the recipient of the transmitter used in Iranian missiles in attacks on Saudi Arabia:BD_Sensors_Lonca_turkish_firm
The UN documents highlight that the critical transmitters were found in the missiles seized from a dhow named Al-Raheeb in the Gulf of Aden by the US Navy on November 25, 2019. The dhow was transporting anti-tank guided missile launch containers, surface-to-air missiles, components for Quds-1 and C802 cruise missiles and uncrewed aerial vehicle and waterborne improvised explosive device parts. UN investigators examined the samples to trace the origin of the components used in the manufacture of these weapons.
The transmitters were part of the Quds-type cruise missiles used in 2019 and 2020 attacks on multiple targets in Saudi Arabia. The pressure transmitter that was used in one missile with serial number 10075204 was imported by Turkish company Lonca on July 14, 2016, although it is not clear how it ended up in an Iranian Quds missile. The Turkish company did not respond to a UN letter that asked about the delivery of the transmitters after it imported them from Germany.
The Islamist Erdoğan regime, filled with many pro-Iran Islamists in senior positions in the government, has openly declared its opposition to sanctions on Iran and pledged to beat the punitive measures in cooperation with the mullah regime in Tehran. The close engagement with Iran caused trouble for the Erdoğan regime with Turkey’s long-time ally, the US. Two federal cases in the US have revealed how Turkish nationals of Iranian origin violated US laws using Turkish territory as an operations hub with full knowledge of Turkish government officials.
A BD Sensors’ pressure transmitter was identified by UN investigators as a component of an Iranian-made Quds missile:BD_Sensors_UN_2020_report
The most damning revelation was made when a corruption case involving Turkish-Iranian national Reza Zarrab, who bribed senior government officials including cabinet ministers and cultivated personal ties with Erdoğan, was made public on December 17, 2013. Dozens of suspects including Zarrab were detained and later arrested for violating several Turkish laws.
Erdoğan, who was incriminated in the probe, stepped in to derail the prosecution and helped release all the suspects after orchestrating the removal of the lead prosecutors and investigators in the case. All suspects including Zarrab were later acquitted by new judges who were brought in to hear the case by the Erdoğan government.
However, Zarrab was arrested by the FBI in Miami in 2016 and charged by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York with engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of transactions on behalf of the Iranian government, money laundering and bank fraud. He cut a deal with prosecutors and decided to cooperate in a US federal case that exposed the role of Erdoğan, who had instructed Turkish state banks to participate in the multi-billion dollar scheme in exchange for kickbacks.
Transmitter manufactured by BD Sensors was also found in the debris of a missile attack on the Saudi Aramco Bulk Plant in Jeddah in November 2020:BD_Sensors_Aramco_attack_Saudi_Arabia
At the end of the trial, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy general manager of state lender Halkbank, was convicted and served time before returning to Turkey. The co-conspirators who were indicted by the US federal prosecutors including the former economy minister of Turkey in the Erdoğan cabinet remain beyond reach.
Another US federal case involved a Turkish national identified as Reşit Tavan, the owner of several shell companies in Turkey that acted on behalf of Iran in transporting goods from the US without declaring that the end destination was in fact Iran.
Tavan was indicted on June 27, 2017 by US federal prosecutors for conspiring to defraud the US and smuggle American-made products to Iran. The indictment alleged that marine goods such as outboard motors, generators and propulsion systems that were manufactured in Wisconsin were shipped first to Turkey and then to Iran without the knowledge of the manufacturers and without a license from the US government.
Turkish machinery firm Lonca’s trade registry data:Lonca_makina_trade_registry_data
Tavan was arrested on June 8, 2017 when he was going through customs in Romania and unsuccessfully fought extradition. The Turkish Embassy in Bucharest lobbied to get him back to safety in Turkey, helped him hire a former justice minister of Romania as his defense attorney and even managed to get a ruling against extradition in the court of first instance. But the appeals court overruled the judgement and cleared the way for his extradition to the US. On December 11, 2017 he was formally arrested during his arraignment in federal court in Milwaukee after Romanian authorities turned him over to the US, balking at the Turkish government’s request.
On April 2, 2019 faced with overwhelming evidence and the prospect of a long prison sentence, Tavan cut a deal with federal prosecutors and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the US laws, saving himself from the lengthy sentence he would most likely receive on the additional charges. The Federal District Court in Milwaukee sentenced him to 28 months’ imprisonment on August 29, 2019. US District Judge Pamela Pepper ruled to release and deport him to Turkey given the fact that he had already spent 20 months in the Waukesha County Jail.
BD Sensors’ OEM Pressure Transmitter as advertised in a company brochure:BD_Sensors_Trasmitter_catalogue