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Asset Freeze Over Iran’s Nuclear Armament OK’d

(CN) - The European Council properly blacklisted a company that helped Iran build its nuclear weapons program, Europe's highest court ruled on Thanksgiving.

Lawmakers voted to freeze the assets of Iranian manufacturing companies Kala Naft and Fulmen - as well as those of Fulmen's chairman Fereydoun Mahmoudian - in 2010 after finding the companies had actively promoted Iran's nuclear arms scheme.

The General Court of the European Union overturned this council decision, however, after finding that legislators had failed to prove that either Fulmen or Mahmoudian helped Iran build its nuclear program sufficiently for either to mount a defense. In a separate decision, the court ruled that the council illegally expanded its own definition of Kala Naft's involvement in order to justify blacklisting that company.

In reversing this decision Thursday, the Court of Justice of the European Union said the lower court failed to account for changes in EU law that supported sanctions against Kala Naft.

Specifically, European lawmakers banned the sale of key equipment and technology in the Iranian gas and oil sector in 2010, a motivating factor for blacklisting Kala Naft after it purchased alloy gates that have no use other than in a nuclear program.

"Kala Naft itself states that it is regularly involved in the procurement of alloy gates for National Iranian Oil Company or its subsidiaries," the Luxembourg-based high court wrote. "In any event, on the basis of that role within the NIOC group which necessarily entails the purchasing of a very large quantity of goods used by NIOC's undertakings, the council was entitled to find that Kala Naft was, in the context of its business, involved in the procurement of prohibited goods and technology and, in particular, of equipment for the oil and gas sectors that can be used for Iran's nuclear program as referred to in the statement of reasons for the acts at issue."

The council's appeal concerning Fulmen and Mahmoudian did not fare as well, however - given its refusal to turn over documentation of Fulmen's involvement in building the Qom/Fordoo power plant, which lawmakers used to justify the asset freeze.

"The only evidence available to the Courts of the European Union is the claim made in the statement of reasons for the acts at issue," the court wrote in a second opinion. "It is not substantiated by the production of information or evidence, such as a summary of the content of the information in question, further details of the electrical equipment allegedly installed on the Qom site or the reasons for identifying Fulmen as having installed that equipment, and, therefore, for establishing that the allegations were well founded.

"In the light of that fact, it must be held that Fulmen and Mahmoudian were not in a position to defend themselves against the allegations and that the Courts of the European Union are not in a position to determine whether the acts at issue were well founded," the high court concluded.

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