Telexes: Amir Kabir University and Dr. Shahmoradi
by David Albright
May 16, 2012Download PDF
Although the Physics Research Center’s head Sayyed Abbas Shahmoradi-Zavareh purchased many goods through Sharif University of Technology, he also made purchases in the name of at least one other university, Amir Kabir University, also known as Polytechnic University. The telexes describe purchases from the French daughter company of the U.S. company Digital Equipment Company’s (DEC). This well-known U.S. mini-computer company sold the popular VAX computer and software, before succumbing to the market in the late 1990s. The telexes concern Shahmoradi’s purchases from early 1991 into 1994. The end use of these purchases remains unclear, but an assessment of these telexes implies that the PHRC was using another Iranian university as a front to purchase goods for itself, perhaps Department 70, which is discussed in an earlier ISIS report. The purchase may have violated U.S. export control laws.
There are roughly two dozen telexes that relate to Amir Kabir University. The contents of these telexes imply that other communications existed with the supplier.
Often the telex number of the Iranian sender is Sharif University, which is odd for a purported purchase by another major university. For example, a telex on January 24, 1991 from DEC France to the Polytechnic University used the Sharif University telex number (telex 143). It is titled a “proforma telex” for a VAX 6310 minicomputer and associated software with a total price of almost $200,000.
Shahmoradi’s presence in this order is readily apparent, although the Physics Research Center was not explicitly named in any of these telexes. A telex dated April 16, 1991 makes it apparent that Shahmoradi was at the center of the procurement of the computer equipment, informing the French DEC salesman of changes in the product’s configuration (telex 208). A telex dated January 25, 1993 from an unidentified company PEC, using the telex number of RAPA IR, to Digital Equipment France, asked to change the customer name from Amir Kabir University to Dr. A. Shahmoradi on the payment documents (telex 1252). Shahmoradi is listed on this telex as head of the “Research Department.”
Link to PHRC
The PHRC and its customary P.O. boxes or facsimile numbers do not explicitly appear in the telexes mentioning Amir Kabir University. However, besides Shahmoradi himself, there is another link in this procurement to the PHRC via the names of Shahmoradi’s apparent employees at the PHRC.
Shahmoradi appeared in the Amir Kabir telexes with a Dr. S. Akhlaghpour and a Dr. P. Boulanni (telex 164). A February 11, 1991 telex from Digital Equipment to a telex number owned by a company using the telex name RAPA IR discussed a visit by Shahmoradi, Akhlaghpour, and Boulanini to Digital Equipment France (telex 164). In the telex, the sponsoring company is listed as the Polytechnic University, which as stated above is another name for Amir Kabir University.
In telex 164, the name Akhlaghpour may be misspelled, since telexes have frequent misspellings. Thus the correct spelling is likely Akhlaghpoor, a name which appears often in the set of ISIS telexes. A number of telexes show that Shahmoradi and Akhlaghpoor are working together on a range of overseas procurements purportedly as members of the purchasing department of Sharif University. The last name Boulanini could also have been misspelled by the French writer. This name likely matches a Mr. P. Boleyni or alternatively Boulini, Bolini, and Boleini (telexes 596, 171, 292, and 738), who is mentioned in many telexes as associated with Sharif University’s purchasing department alongside Shahmoradi and Akhlagpoor. 1
Another telex lists all three individuals explicitly as working at or representing the PHRC. A telex dated February 2, 1991 from the PHRC, Tehran to Drager Co. which discusses an upcoming visit and the need for an invitation, lists the PHRC delegation as composed of Dr. Abbas Shahmoradi (Director), Dr. Shahram Akhlaghpoor (Specialist), and Dr. Parviz Boulini (Commercial Director) (Telex 596). 2 This telex establishes that all three persons worked at the PHRC. To hide the purpose of their purchases, they likely disguised this affiliation and took on the identities of purchasing agents of universities.
Violation of U.S. Export Controls?
In September 1991, DEC France reminded Amir Kabir to submit some paperwork necessary to receive a re-export license from the United States before it could ship the equipment to Iran (telex 471). That application specifically required Iran to submit a non-nuclear end use assurance (telex 840).
Evidently, Iran filled out the requisite forms. The shipment was scheduled for sometime after October 1991 (telex 471), although its actual shipment date was apparently delayed until January 1992 (telexes 412 and 1528).
Later telexes discussed letters of credit but they do not discuss any additional sales. Given the multiple addresses Shahmoradi used, the end user of the VAX mini-computer cannot be determined. It may have been Amir Kabir University, but it just as likely was the Physics Research Center.
One telex mentioned the order originating from department 70 of the Polytechnic University (telex 143). Was this department 70 related to the department 70 linked to the PHRC in an earlier ISIS study that was acquiring technology and some goods for the PHRC?
1 In one telex, a supplier sent the message to Sharif University’s telex number but addressed the telex to Mr. Boleyni at the Physics Research Center (telex 752).
2 In telex 596, the telex abbreviation of the company sending the telex was TIR IR and its number was 212582