A retired British couple, Paul and Iris Attwater have revealed they were lured by a businessman into allegedly supplying parts for Iran’s nuclear program, as they sought a bit of spare cash to go on holiday and purchase a Crawley Town FC season ticket. The spouses, both in their mid-60s, were summoned to a London court on accusations of contributing to the Islamic Republic’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
The grandparents were at the time innocently selling nuts and bolts to an Iraqi-born businessman, based in Malaysia, named Alexander George. They appeared to be counting screws on the floor at their home and storing aircraft parts in their loft.
'Shropshire couple were 'groomed' into supplying parts for Iran's nuclear programme' court hears.— WorldECR (@worldecr) 31 октября 2018 г.
Or on the other hand, perhaps they were for civilian aircraft?
https://t.co/MMb2kpvtUD via @telegraphnews
“It’s nothing like they were saying – it wasn’t weapons. We were literally counting 10,000 nuts and bolts on the living room floor,” Iris told The Sunday People.
“It’s been an absolute nightmare. We’ve been made out to be international arms dealers but nothing could be further from the truth,” she noted emotionally.
'Naive' Telford couple groomed into supplying parts for Iran's nuclear programme https://t.co/TDZFuOZ6Ny— Andrea Jones (@allaboutclait) 30 октября 2018 г.
Paul initially thought it was a joke, before the court handed them a six-month suspended sentence and barred them from running their venture for six years. Paul had notably pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the sending of goods across the UK border with intent to evade restrictions, while Iris denied the same charge.
Meanwhile, George, a 76 year-old from Bristol, was found guilty of being knowingly concerned in the delivery of controlled goods to a sanctioned destination, namely Iran, with his sentence expected to be handed down next month.
George sourced parts from the Attwaters' firm Pairs Aviation, which were then exported by the couple via a Dutch shipping company to Iran through a network of companies in the Far East, the court heard.
According to the prosecutors, the man held contracts to source and supply Iranian aviation firms with components for planes and helicopters through companies he owned in Malaysia and Dubai. George himself denied the charges.
"The fact that you were, in effect, groomed by Mr George I accept — he deceived you. I do not, for one moment, think that either of you are bad people. You have, in my view, been very, very naive," Judge Michael Grieve QC summed up.
The embargo on business ties with Iran dates back to May 8 of this year, when the US withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran and any country doing business with Iranian companies. The first round of US-initiated economic limitations became effective in August, whereas a greater list of sanctions targeting Iran’s oil and banking sectors among others, are expected to take effect on November 4.