With elections in Iran engulfing the media’s energies, there’s apparently no room for anything else. Besides, it can’t be bothered with reports written in weird languages, i.e. not English (only Arianna at the now multi-lingual Huffington Post understands the folly of this narrow view). We’ve already updated on Germany, now it’s time to focus on its warm-weather EU partner Italy.
First, the government level: following the election results, Italy’s foreign minister expressed his hope to develop bilateral relations (his ambassador in Tehran is already being smothered with love). But even beforehand – just when much of the international community maintains a wait-and-see holding pattern approach vis-à-vis Iran – direct flights by sanctioned IranAir between Tehran and Rome were resumed. Months earlier, Italians eager to strengthen economic ties with Iran claimed that their country would become Tehran’s number one European trading partner.
But seriously, folks: Rome looks to be the target of Iranian illicit activities to circumvent sanctions.
This is the story: Eleven engineers who were formerly with the Italian energy giant Ansaldo Energia have been indicted for industrial espionage, including fencing and infringing UN sanctions provisions. According to the charge sheet, the engineers stole trade secrets that they took with them to a rival company, CFD, and then sold them to Iran’s state-owned MAPNA, which is involved in energy production machinery and sanctioned for WMD involvement.
Last on the list are mavericks such as Roberto Toscano, Italy’s ambassador to Tehran from 2003-2008. He’s ubiquitous for a European – whether contributing to a report by the DC-based pro-Iranian lobby, or organizing a “debate” in Barcelona with Mousavian (since both are regime apologists, it’s not clear what they could “debate” about).
So goes Rome these days – lest the media would like to take notice.