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Iran denies buying ship from Israeli firm: report

Iran trade official says news of economic activity with Israel a game played against Iran

AFP , Sunday 29 May 2011
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Iran's top trade official has denied that a public company in Iran, which does not recognise the Jewish state, has bought a ship from an Israeli firm as claimed by Washington, local media said Sunday.

"Based on the laws of the country, any kind of trade or economic transaction with the Zionist regime and its affiliated firms is against the law," the chairman of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) Mohammad Nahavandian was quoted as saying.

"The news regarding the activities of Zionist firms in regard to Iran is a new game which has surfaced in reaction to other nations welcoming establishing economic ties with Iran," Nahavandian said.

"Thus they (West powers) are naming some Zionist firms as engaged in doing business with Iran."

On May 24, the United States announced new sanctions against Iran, targeting foreign firms including the Israeli firm Ofer Brothers Group.

The firm is accused of selling a tanker for $8.6 million to Iranian shipping company Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in September 2010 in violation of the international embargo imposed on Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.

Ofer Brothers Group has denied the allegation, and the Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into the issue.

The Islamic republic does not recognise Israel's right to exist and its animosity has hardened under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has launched repeated tirades against the Jewish state.

Israel, like the United States, has not ruled out a military strike against Tehran to halt its controversial nuclear programme, which the West says masks a drive for atomic weapons. Tehran says the programme is for civilian purposes only.

Israel has also been indirectly implicated in an attempt by a Spanish company to illegally export to Tehran military helicopters purchased in the Jewish state. The transaction was foiled earlier this week by the Spanish authorities.

The sale of such helicopters to Iran is banned under the United Nations sanctions. Iran has so far not reacted to this news.

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