The Iran nuclear deal signed July 14 stipulates that eight years after its implementation, the European Union will delist a construction conglomerate owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In so doing, the EU will inject a massive cash flow into one of the IRGC’s other primary industries: terrorism.
Khatam al-Anbia (literally, “Seal of the Prophets”) was born as an IRGC engineering corps during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), building trenches and fortifications. Since then, it has developed into the largest contracting company in Iran – potentially even the country’s largest firm outright – benefitting from government contracts on a no-bid basis. Its projects now include developing Iran’s massive South Pars gas field, building a pipeline to Pakistan, and a Tehran metro line, to name a few.
In 2010, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned the conglomerate, citing declassified intelligence that the profits from its activities “support the full range of the IRGC’s illicit activities, including WMD proliferation and support for terrorism.”
The demise of Hassan Shateri, the head of Khatam al-Anbia’s Lebanon branch, is a case in point. On February 12, 2013, Shateri was killed while accompanying an arms convoy en route from Syria to Lebanon – allegedly in an airstrike by Israeli jets. Details soon emerged that he was heading efforts to replenish Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and its launch sites along the Israeli border. Shateri, reports revealed, was actually a commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC external arm responsible for “exporting the revolution” worldwide.
Like the Quds Force, Khatam al-Anbia’s activities extend far beyond Iran, including housing complexes in Venezuela, gas pipelines and water purification plants in Iraq, and unspecified “large projects” in Syria. And like Shateri’s work, these projects are likely to be linked to illicit operations that have little to do with their stated mandates.
The EU delisting of Khatam al-Anbia is a clear sign that Brussels is willing to turn a blind eye to the firm’s terrorism in order to achieve a nuclear deal. It also means that in eight short years Europeans face the prospect of the company and its subsidiaries operating on their soil.
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @Alfoneh