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Canadian company tried selling missile technology to Iran

Canada, like many of its allies, has an arms embargo on Iran.

An unnamed Canadian company tried to sell missile technology to the Iranian government, according to a recently released federal report.

Canada has an arms embargo on Iran, along with several of its major allies including the United States, which recently stepped up its pressure on the Middle Eastern power, withdrawing from the much publicised nuclear agreement.

The news comes within a month of a U.S. court sentencing a Canadian citizen to three-and-a-half years in prison for conspiring to send missile technology back to Iran using a series of shell companies to bypass American sanctions. And a year earlier, another Canadian and Iranian dual citizen was sentenced to 32 months in a U.S. jail for attempting to export weapons to Iran and violating the American embargo.


Iran’s missile program is a key issue for the Trump administration, which fears the country could one day develop a long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of striking the U.S.

The Canadian government refused to provide the name or any details on the company, but did point out the denial of permit was for materials described as, “(p)roduction of structural composites, pyrolytic deposition and densification, and structural materials,” which falls under “missile technology” in its own export classifications. The attempted sale occurred sometime in 2017.

“The Government has an obligation to protect confidential commercial information,” said Global Affairs spokesperson Stefano Maron. “Disclosing such information could harm a company’s commercial interests, and impact Canadian competitiveness.”

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In its rejection, the government cited economic sanctions on Iran tabled in 2016 prohibiting companies from providing it any “goods and technologies which are considered sensitive from a national and international security perspective.”

The federal report, issued in June, tracks all military goods and technology exports sold out of Canada, which can include everything from software and protective vests, to assault rifles, tanks and ballistic missiles. Companies are required to obtain permits from the federal government for export to any foreign buyers, which Global Affairs claims to review meticulously.

In recent years, Canada and Iran have had a rocky diplomatic relationship. Along with levelling heavy economic sanctions for Tehran’s nuclear program, Canada withdrew its embassy from Iran in 2012. Iran responded by removing its own from Ottawa.

But after his election in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated his interest in normalizing relations with Iran after it came to an agreement with the international community to end its nuclear weapons program.

Cover image: A member of Iranian Revolutionary Guard speaks on his walkie talkie while Zolfaghar surface-to-surface ballistic missiles are displayed in an annual pro-Palestinian rally marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Tehran on June 23, 2017. Photo by Vahid Salemi/AP.