Iranian Displays Removed From Asian Defense Show
BY WENDELL MINNICK
KUALA LUMPUR - The Iranian Pavilion at the 11th Defence Services Asia (DSA) 2008 exhibition was forced to pack up and leave twice at the four-day event at the Putra World Trade Centre here that began April 21.
The pavilion was sponsored by Iran's defense export arm, the Ministry of Defense Logistics and Exports. Officially, they were asked to leave for "failing to pay the exhibitor fees," one show official said. But several sources stated the Iranians were asked to leave after the U.S., U.K., German and French embassies complained the Iranians were displaying items in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1747 and 1803.
The U.S. and Iranian embassies declined to comment on the issue.
"Two days ago, they [DSA employees] came to the pavilion and raised curtains around the stand and began to dismantle it," said a source who witnessed the first dismantling of the Iranian Pavilion on April 19, two days before the start of the show. The Iranians were allowed back on the second day of the show on April 22, but once again were asked to leave due to alleged violations of the U.N. resolutions.
"They came back in the middle of the night on the 21st at the invitation of show officials, set up their booth and were told to leave again in the morning after displaying munitions banned by the U.N.," a British government source said.
"The Iranians have been informed, briefed through their ambassador, that they have space in DSA 2008 provided they showcase equipment that does not contravene the U.N. resolution. This was conveyed to their Iranian ambassador by our secretary-general on 22nd April," Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said during a news conference on April 24.
"Unfortunately, when we came around to inspect their stand, they displayed equipment that clearly contravened the U.N. resolution, such as missiles and missile systems that would be in direct contravention of Security Council Resolution 1747 and 1803," he said.
The two resolutions, as well as Resolution 1737, stiffen sanctions against Iran in connection to its nuclear program, and include restrictions on exporting arms listed on the 1992 U.N. Register on Conventional Arms.
"We were left in the situation that we did not have any option, since Malaysia is committed to respecting and adhering to the U.N. resolution to terminate their participation in DSA 2008," Razak said.
On the issue of whether third countries such as the United States pressured Malaysia to expel the Iranians, the deputy prime minister said the decision was a matter of Malaysian government policy.
"Yes, we received complaints, but we took this action not on the basis of their complaints, but because of our position to respect and adhere to the U.N. resolution," he said.
A planned April 21 U.S. Embassy reception for U.S. attendees of DSA and a planned April 22 visit by the U.S. ambassador to the DSA exhibition were canceled to protest the Iranian presence, according to sources at the show. A U.S. source stated the U.S. ambassador canceled both activities at the last minute for "reasons out of his control."
The Iranian Pavilion was small, but nine companies under the Ministry of Defense Logistics and Exports were represented, including the Iran Aviation Industries Organization (IAIO) and Iran Electronics Industries (IEI).
The IAIO is an umbrella organization that manages Iran's military aviation industry. The IEI oversees research and development, manufacturing and upgrading military electronic warfare systems, radar and communications gear.
Instead of attending DSA 2008, U.S. Ambassador James Keith on April presented a set of reference materials and books about counterterrorism to the library at the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism on April 22. The United States has partnered with the regional center on numerous programs since it was created in 2003, including sponsorship of more than 40 counterterrorism training courses.