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Almost All Smuggled Goods Into Iran Come Through Legal Ports


Harbor security men stand guard during an inauguration ceremony of new equipment and infrastructure at Shahid Beheshti Port in the Southeastern Iranian coastal city of Chabahar, on the Gulf of Oman, February 25, 2019

The Iranian parliament has disclosed in a report that 95 percent of smuggling into the country is done through legal ports of entry and procedures, using 31 different techniques.

The report covering a long period of more than a decade was read in the open session of the Iranian parliament on May 12.

According to the report, contrary to the statements of Customs authorities, 95% of smuggling into Iran is carried out through "official ports of entry and procedures".

The report's authors say they have identified 31 methods and techniques of smuggling goods through legal procedures and official ports of entry, but they stop short of elaborating on the legal methods used to smuggle goods into Iran and the ways to combat them.

Earlier, several lawmakers had also claimed that 70 to 90 percent of smuggling into Iran takes place through official borders and legal procedures.

Nevertheless, Iranian customs officials have repeatedly denied the allegations.

The role of government officials and those in power in spreading the phenomenon of smuggling goods and hard currencies is not a new topic in Iran. For years, the local media and the Islamic Republic officials have time and again talked about smuggling in their reports and speeches.

There is also smuggling of gasoline, oil products and food staples the neighboring country, due to subsidized prices in Iran.

Meanwhile, the issue of smuggling goods through military-controlled wharves has also been raised many times before.

During his second term as the president of the Islamic Republic (2009-13), the outspoken hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad implicitly referred to the members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as "our smuggler brethren".

His successor Hassan Rouhani, also said in February 2015, "A corrupt system that can import smuggled goods does not allow the country to grow." However, Rouhani also shied away from naming the culprit directly.

Dominated by the so-called reformists, he Islamic Republic's sixth parliament (2000-2004) also said in its investigation and probe into smuggling, "invisible wharves available to informal and supranational institutions" have a role in the smuggling of goods.

The report explicitly referred to three IRGC-controlled wharves in Chabahar, Khor Zangi, and Hormozgan, and several other piers run by the security forces. Mehdi Karroubi, the speaker of the sixth parliament, who is currently under house arrest, also spoke about the existence of 41 illegal wharves.

The current parliament’s report on smuggling has also asserted that 22 to 33 percent of goods imported into Iran were smuggled.

According to the same report, only one percent of goods smuggled into Iran are discovered.

Furthermore, the report dismissed as unfounded claims by the officials of the Headquarters to Combat Smuggling of Goods and Foreign Exchange that the amount of smuggling in Iran has decreased to nearly thirteen billion dollars. The report has insisted that the amount is still between $21.5 billion to $25.5 billion.

Earlier, Hassan Rouhani's administration had also claimed that the volume of smuggled goods in Iran had halved.

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