UNITED NATIONS - Commodities giant Glencore supplied thousands of tons of alumina to an Iranian firm that has provided aluminum to Iran's nuclear program, intelligence and diplomatic sources told Reuters.
The previously undisclosed barter arrangement between Glencore, the world's biggest commodities trader, and the Iranian Aluminum Company (Iralco) illustrates how difficult it is for Western powers to curb Iran's ability to trade with the rest of the world. Even as the West imposes stringent restrictions on banks that do business with Iran, United Nations diplomats say that Tehran keeps finding new ways to do business with willing partners.
Reuters first learned about Glencore's barter deal with Iralco, and an aluminum supply contract that Iralco had with Iran Centrifuge Technology Co (TESA), from a Western diplomatic source in early November. That was about six weeks before the European Union's December 2012 decision to levy sanctions on Iralco for supplying aluminum metal to TESA, which is a subsidiary of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
The source showed Reuters a Western intelligence report concerning Glencore's arrangement with Iralco. It described how Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore provided Iralco with thousands of tons of alumina last year in exchange for a lesser amount of aluminum metal. The report's authenticity was confirmed by UN diplomats.