The Iranian -“Israeli” Military Cooperation Against Iraq
A Document From the Archives of Al-Moharer
The military cooperation between the Khomeini regime in Iran and the Zionist entity has now been totally exposed by the admission of Iran’s former and present leaders. After months of denying that it was buying large quantities of weapons from the Zionists, the so-called “Islamic” regime of Iran finds itself faced with overwhelming evidence that cannot be explained away.
Iraq had been warning from the start of its war with Iran in September of 1980 that Israel was supplying the Khomeini regime with arms and other military hardware. But it was not until Saturday, July 18, 1981, that concrete proof of that pernicious relationship became available.
On that day, an Argentinean transport plane, a Candair CL 44, crashed near Erivan, in the Armenian region of the Soviet Union. The aircraft was on the third of twelve scheduled flights from Tel Aviv to Tehran, ferrying weapons, ammunition and military spare parts, of American and other manufacture, supplied by the Zionist entity to Iran.
That crash, and the evidence it provided about the Iranian ties to the Zionists, produced a flood of reports that has forced Iran’s leaders finally to admit that they had been dealing with the “Israelis”. On November 25, 1981, no less than authority than Rafsanjani, chairman of the Iranian national assembly, admitted that Iran had a military cooperation arrangement with Israel.
He was quoted by the Kuwaiti News Agency as saying, after a meeting of the Iranian Higher Defense Council that Iran’s military purchases from the Zionist entity were in cash, in return for a standing debt. Rafsanjani claimed that the Khomeini regime had been reluctant to buy the arms, but was overruled by the Defense Council, which wanted to get the arms and to retrieve the money from “Israel”. The
Rafsanjani statement was also broadcast by Tehran Radio. But the definitive admission of the existence of the military ties between Iran and “Israel” came on August 20, 1981, when exiled Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr was interviewed on the ABC television network’s “Nightline” news program.
Bani-Sadr confirmed that “Israel” had been selling arms and other military equipment to Iran for some time. He also said that while he was president, he had personally opposed dealing with “Israel” and that he had urged, during high-level government meetings, that Iran makes peace with Iraq rather than trade with “Israel”.
The former Iranian president said that his efforts to prevent the purchase of arms from “Israel” failed because the ruling clergy feared that peace with Iraq would permit Iranian armed forces to oust the religious regime. Said Bani-Sadr:
“The strange thing was to buy arms from the “Israelis”, which showed that the taste for power on the part of the mullahs in Iran was very strong. At the time I was president, it was a question of indirect purchase. I was opposed. I said, ‘If we have to buy arms from the “Israelis”, why not make peace with the Iraqis? It would be much better’.”
On Friday, August 28, 1981, an official spokesman of the government of Cyprus said in Nicosia that a Candair CL 44 Argentinean cargo plane had refueled at Larnaca Airport on July 17, 1981, while on Flight Number 224 ER. The spokesman also gave the following information about the aircraft:
1. On July 11, 1981, the plane landed at Larnaca Airport on a flight from Tel Aviv to Tehran, earring 50 boxes weighing 6,750 kilograms. It was piloted by a Captain MacFerty.
2. On July 12, 1981, the aircraft returned to Larnaca from Tehran and left the same day for Tel Aviv, this time piloted by a Captain Cordero.
3. On July 13, 1981, the plane again stopped at Larnaca on a flight from Tel Aviv, and left early the next day, July 14, for Tehran. The aircraft returned to Larnaca around noon on July 14, and then proceeded to Tel Aviv, piloted by Captain Cordero.
All these are facts that establish beyond any doubt the existence of arms cooperation between the Zionist entity and Iran. It did not even need confirmation by Rafsanjani and Bani-Sadr. The importance of what they said, however, stems from the fact that they were admissions by the highest authorities in Iran, and thus not open to skepticism or error.
Moreover, the crash of the Argentinean cargo plane, its three round-trips between Tel Aviv and Tehran – as described by the spokesman for the Cypriot government – and the admissions of Bani-Sadr and Rafsanjani were not the only pieces of evidence about the existence of the arms cooperation arrangement between Iran and the Zionist entity. Since the first month of the war that Iran launched against Iraq in September, 1980, there has been a steady flow of information about secret contacts, both direct and indirect, between Iranian and “Israeli” officials involving arms deals between Iran and the Zionist entity.
The information that reached the news media of several countries left no doubt that an Iranian-“Israeli” military arrangement existed. On October 21, 1980, the French-language magazine “Afrique-Asie” published in Paris carried a report by its correspondent in Tehran that Israeli military and civilian experts had arrived in Iran three days after the start of the war with Iraq to assist the Iranian General Staff, some of whose leaders had had close links to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.
On November 2, 1980, the British newspaper “The Observer” reported that “Israel” had sent several shipments of military equipment to Iran, and that a cargo of spare parts had been unloaded by ships sailing under non-Israeli flags at Iran’s three ports of Bandar Abbas, Shah Bahar and Bushahar. Also on November 2, 1980, the West German newspaper “Die Welt” said that Israel was supplying Iran with spare parts for American-made weapons, especially the F-4 jet fighters. The newspaper added that the military equipment was reaching Iran by sea, aboard vessels that were following unusual routes to Iran.
The military relationship between Iran and Israel was also noted in “Al-Watan al-Araby,” an Arabic-language magazine published in Paris, on November 5, 1980; by the French magazine “VCD” on November 11, 1980, and by the French magazine “Jeune Afrique” on November 14, 1980.
Al-Watan al-Araby reported that an “Israeli” vessel, loaded with weapons and spare parts, had stopped at the Belgian port of Antwerp and other European ports where its cargo was unloaded for reshipment to Iran. VCD magazine stressed that “Israel” had been secretly supplying Iran with arms and spare parts for several months, following contacts between “Israeli” and Iranian officials. Jeune Afrique reported that the “Israeli”-Iranian arms negotiations had been conducted in the Netherlands.
On March 31, 1981, the Kuwaiti newspaper “Al-Siyassah” quoted informed sources in Paris as saying that Israel was repairing jet engines for Iran, and that six F-15 engines had been returned to Iran after maintenance in Israel. This particular deal was said to have been arranged through a European country with close ties to Israel.
On July 5, 1981, the CBS television network reported that for some time Israel had been supplying Iran with arms and spare parts for use in the war against Iraq. The CHS broadcast said that a $10 million weapons deal, involving mostly American-made artillery and ammunition, was concluded in July with the help of European arms brokers. It also reported that as of July 12, 1981, an airlift had begun operating between “Israel” and Iran to ferry the weapons aboard foreign-registry aircraft.
On July 21, 1981, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the Iranian regime had contacted a number of arms dealers and intermediaries for the purchase of weapons, ammunition and spare parts from “Israel”. It also said that Iran’s request for Israeli weapons was made before the release of the American hostages in January, 1981.
On July 24, 1981, Argentinean newspapers, including La Prensa, reported that the plane that crashed in the Soviet Union was ferrying weapons and other military equipment from “Israel” to Iran.
In London, the newspaper “Sunday Times” gave details on July 26, 1981, about the crash of the Argentine aircraft, noting that the man responsible for the delivery of “Israeli” weapons to Iran was British arms dealer Stewart Allan MacFerty. The newspaper also quoted Andreas Jeney, a Swiss national and MacFerty’s partner, as saying that three military shipments were delivered to Iran – on July 12, 14 and 17. He also told the Sunday Times that Israeli officials had insisted on listing all arms, ammunition and spare parts on official documents before they were sent to Iran, but without mentioning the destination. The Iranians, in turn, insisted on using Larnaca Airport in Cyprus as a stopover point, because it was a route they had used before.
The Sunday Times also quoted the Swiss arms dealer as saying that he was convinced that members of the Palestine Liberation Organization had uncovered the operation and informed Soviet authorities to expect the Argentine plane to fly over their border.
On July 27, 1981, the French newspaper “Le Figaro” published a report on the Argentine plane incident and about the military cooperation between Iran and the Zionist entity, saying that “some time ago, highly secret contacts took place in London between the representatives of Khomeini and an “Israeli” company working covertly for the Israeli government.” Also on July 27, the West German magazine “Der Spiegel” said that “the Islamic republic of Iran had found in “Israel” a new source of arms. Arms agents have been trying for some time to find weapons for Ayatollah Khomeini, and now he has found it, but only because “Israel” has agreed to supply him with arms and spare parts through European intermediaries.”
On July 29, 1981, the Swiss newspaper “Tribune de Lausanne” carried an article under the heading “Israeli weapons for Iran,” saying: “A Swiss businessman from Zurich is the man involved in the transfer of the weapons. He has arranged for the transport of large quantities of military equipment by plane from Israel to Iran, and he has said that he has done nothing illegal. This is also the opinion in Bern, where Swiss federal authorities have shown little concern about these revelations. But it should be noted that Switzerland’s name is once again linked to the harmful arms trade.”
Beginning on August 29, 1981, and for three days running, the ABC television network focused on the strong military relationship between Iran and the Zionist entity. The network broadcast the results of a detailed investigation, which had been carried out over several months and in various capitals, indicating that the arms deals were first made with the help of intermediaries but later became direct. The ABC network made clear that it was in possession of documents containing names of persons involved, the types of aircraft used in the shipments and copies of the checks paid to the Israeli military mission in Switzerland.
The details broadcast by ABC do not cover all the military transactions between Iran and the Zionist entity, but they do provide documented evidence of the scope of cooperation between the two sides. That is in addition to the frank admission made by former President Bani-Sadr.
The ABC report noted that in September, 1980, two French businessmen arrived in Tehran at the invitation of the Iranian government. Soon after the start of the war with Iraq, the Iranian Defense Ministry asked the two Frenchmen to meet with the commanders of the army, air force and navy, who had prepared lists of their military needs. An urgent request was made for tires for the F-4 jet fighters, of which Iran has a large number. The French businessmen quickly relayed that request to “Israel”, through its embassy in Paris.
In October, 1980, an “Israeli” plane arrived in Nimes, southwestern France, earring 250 tires for the F-4’s. Other military shipments were sent to the same French city, including 50 Scorpio tank engines and spare -parts for M-60 tanks. All this equipment was airlifted to Iran aboard a plane chartered from a Luxembourg company known as Cargo Lux. The ABC documents mentioned that the “Israeli” military mission in Zurich received $300,000 for the F-4 tires alone. In that same period, Israel also supplied Iran with recoilless rifles which were shipped through Portugal.
When ABC asked its Tel Aviv correspondent about these details, he noted that Israeli censorship prevented him from dealing with the issue, but he quoted Begin’s secretary as saying: “In accordance with Israel’s long-standing policy, Israel never gives out any information about the sales or the purchase of arms.”
Thus, the ABC correspondent neither denied nor confirmed the information, but Bani-Sadr emphasized to the ABC correspondent in Paris that this relationship with “Israel” began before the war with Iraq, that he had personally opposed it and had told Khomeini that it would be better to reach an accommodation with Iraq than to continue the military links with Israel. ABC also asked Jody Powell, press secretary to former President Jimmy Carter, for his opinion about operations that took place during the Carter administration. Powell was extremely cautious but he said:
“We were aware, almost from the beginning of the hostage crisis, when the President imposed an arms embargo against Iran and asked others, our friends and allies, to join with us in that sanction, that the Iranians were becoming increasingly concerned about the deteriorating condition of their armed forces and were becoming increasingly aggressive in their attempts to obtain spare parts and equipment. This was even before the Iraqi war.”
Powell said that the U.S. remonstrated with the “Israeli” government about the weapons for Iran, at a time when Americans were being held hostage in Iran and while the arms embargo was on. “The Israeli government said that they would respect our wishes in the matter,” Powell said.
In early December, 1981, the London-based Dastour magazine reported that Khomeini had ordered the execution of two Palestinians in Tehran because they had secretly conveyed to Palestinian officials in Beirut information about the Zionist arms relationship with Iran. The magazine quoted informed sources as saying that the Palestinians were exposed by a Western government with close links’ to the Khomeini regime.
And if any further proof were needed, Hassan Nazih, the first head of the Iranian Oil Company appointed by Khomeini, revealed in December 1981, that Khomeini sent one of his relatives to London in February of 1980 to London to negotiate with Zionist officials about the purchase of weapons for Iran.
Nazih’s remarks came in an investigative report in the latest issue of Al-Majallah magazine, published in London, about the details of the military relationship and the secret arms deals between the Khomeini regime and the Zionist entity. The magazine interviewed Nazih and another Iranian who had been very close to Khomeini.
Al-Majallah reported that the Khomeini relative entrusted with the London mission also played a role in the negotiations for the release of the American hostages during 1980. He was described as a man with close business ties with the Zionist entity.
The magazine quoted Fatimi, an Iranian who now lives in New York but who enjoys close contacts with Khomeini, as saying that Iran paid an undisclosed sum of money to “Israel” to help break the embargo imposed on Iran. He said that the Zionists cooperated in that effort, as was shown by the action of the Zionist entity after January, 1980, when it suspended a number of suits against Iran filed in Zionist courts to compensate “Israeli” businessmen who suffered damages after Khomeini took power.
Al-Majallah magazine explained that the reason for the sudden change in the Zionist attitude was the deal between the Zionist entity and Iran for the supply of weapons, ammunition and spare parts. It said that its investigations in West Germany and Britain confirmed that Israel had played a major role in supplying Iran with arms.
Iranian officials for a long time not only were silent about all this, but tried hard to keep their military relationship with Israel a secret, despite the many revelations published by the news media in various countries. But following the Argentinean plane incident and the evidence that came to light about the “Israeli” weapons, including the admission of former president Bani-Sadr, there was great confusion in Tehran reflected in official Iranian statements.
On July 26, 1981, the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued an official statement under the title “Associated Press Conspiracy against the Islamic Revolution in Iran,” denying the report about the Argentine plane “incident, and casting doubt on the Soviet announcement that the plane had gone down over Soviet territory. The statement accused the Associated Press of disseminating false information about the plane being involved in ferrying arms between Israel and Iran.
But on July 27, Bahzad Nabavi, Iranian minister for executive affairs and the government’s spokesman, conceded that an Argentine plane had been downed over the Soviet Union, but he denied that the aircraft had been carrying weapons for Iran purchased from the Zionist entity. On July 28, Hashimi Rafsanjani, leader of the Iranian parliament, admitted in a statement to the newspaper Keyhan that the Argentine plane was involved in transporting arms to Iran and that it crashed on the return leg of just such a flight.
On August 19, 1981, the charge d’affaires of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, stated that Iran had purchased a quantity of arms on the international market and that the weapons were shipped by sea to Cyprus and then by air to Iran. He said the Argentine plane was engaged in that part of the operation when it crashed. And while Iran’s rulers and their spokesmen were casting about for ways to cover up the relationship with “Israel”, the spokesman of the Government of Cyprus made his devastating statement on August 28, 1981, about the roundtrips of the Argentine plane between “Israel” and Iran. Thus, there was no longer any hope that Iran could convince anyone that it was not involved in military arrangements with “Israel”.
The arms cooperation between Iran and the Zionist entity was not conceived in a vacuum and reflects more than just a bilateral relationship. It makes clear the role of the Khomeini regime in the region. What’s more, former White House press secretary Jody Powell’s statement that the Carter Administration was aware that American-made weapons and spare parts were reaching Iran through “Israel” confirms the nature of the Khomeini role.
The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms that the military cooperation between Iran and the Zionist entity was not a secret, but was an issue watched by many quarters, inside and outside our region. But the Iraqi Ministry believes that the importance of exposing this relationship lies in the fact that it constitutes irrefutable evidence of the error of those few who considered previous indications of the Iranian-“Israeli” military cooperation inconclusive.
The revelations about Iran’s links to “Israel” also laid bare the big difference between the Khomeini regime’s claims and the reality of its unprincipled behavior, and whatever the explanation for the attitude of Khomeini’s friends, the question of the weapons deals between Iran and the Zionist entity places them face to face with this reality: They not only chose to side with the foreigner in a war against an Arab victim of aggression, but they also opted to become partners in an alliance involving the Zionist entity.
Another important result of exposing this military cooperation is to focus attention on the efforts of the United States to keep secret the links between Iran and “Israel” by claiming that it had no prior information about it. But after Jody Powell’s admission on ABC television that the Carter Administration was aware of the arms deals, the U.S. position became evident.
The U.S. clearly is also a party in this cooperative arrangement, and that is hardly surprising. What is peculiar is that there are still some who are reluctant to understand the motives that drove the Khomeini regime to launch its war against Iraq and to identify the forces plotting to keep that war going.