Spain stops sale of former IDF helicopters to Iran

Defense Ministry launches investigation after Spanish businessmen reportedly try to sell US choppers formerly owned by Israel.

May 26, 2011 22:53
1 minute read.
IDF helicopters (illustrative).

IAF helicopters 4. (photo credit: IDF)

The Defense Ministry opened an investigation on Thursday after the Spanish Interior Ministry contacted Israel and revealed that it had arrested a group of businessmen trying to sell American helicopters formerly owned by Israel to Iran.

According to news sources in Spain, five Spanish businessmen and three Iranians were arrested in an operation called “Nam,” during which nine Bell-112 military transport helicopters were also seized. Israel had used the Bell-112 up until the 1990s when it purchased the Sikorsky HU-60 Blackhawk as a transport helicopter.

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Police estimate the value of the helicopters and spare parts seized in the operation at about $140 million, AFP reported. According to Spanish authorities, the Spanish businessmen bought the helicopters from Israel and were trying to sell them to Iran.

The Defense Ministry said it was “looking into the reports.”

Before selling US military equipment, Israel is required to receive permission from the Pentagon. It also generally has buyers sign documents obligating them to certain restrictions such as not selling them to Iran.

“There was a group of Spanish citizens who bought material, in this case helicopters, in Israel and then tried to sell them to other nations to which you can’t export arms, like Iran,” Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told a news conference on Thursday, AFP reported.

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