IAF helicopter
IAF helicopterIsrael news photo: IAF website

Despite their open hostility to Israel, Iranian officials recently tried to purchase military equipment formerly owned by the Jewish state, Spanish officials have reported.

A group of five Spanish businessmen and three Iranians were arrested in Spain as the former attempted to sell the latter nine Bell-112 military transport helicopters formerly used by Israel. Police seized $140 million worth of equipment in the raid, including the helicopters themselves, which had been stored in warehouses in Barcelona and Madrid.

The sale was illegal due to sanctions on Iran. America and Europe have voted in increasingly harsh sanctions on Iran as the country continues to pursue its nuclear program while failing to allow international inspectors full access. According to a recent report, Iran continues to violate the sanctions using front companies, concealed shipping and more.

Spanish authorities reported that the Bell-112s had been purchased legally from Israel. Israeli officials confirmed that the helicopters were sold to a Spanish businessman after they went out of use. The United States approved the sale, as is standard regarding U.S.-manufactured equipment.

The sale was approved only after the buyer showed documentation stating the helicopters were to be used in Spain for a civilian purpose. The Defense Ministry is investigating the issue.

Israel can perhaps take comfort in hearing that Iran is seeking equipment more than 20 years behind its own: the IDF stopped using the Bell-112 decades ago, switching in the 1990s to the Sikorsky HU-60 Blackhawk.