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January 31, 2024
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4 Chinese citizens aid Iran in obtaining U.S. tech for warfare.


Four Chinese nationals have been charged by the US Justice Department with helping Iran obtain US technology for military use. The individuals are alleged to have used front companies in China to obtain “dual-use” technology from the US for entities linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. The charges come after three US service members were killed and several injured in a drone attack in Jordan, for which an Iranian-backed militant group is suspected. The Justice Department has accused the individuals of complicated conspiracy and material misrepresentations to US companies.

Four Chinese nationals have been charged by the US Justice Department with illegally providing US technology to Iran, specifically “dual-use” items with military application. The suspects are Baoxia Liu (also known as Emily Liu), Yiu Wa Yung (also known as Stephen Yung), Yongxin Li (also known as Emma Lee), and Yanli Zhong (also known as Sydney Chung). The charges state that between 2007 and 2020, the individuals arranged front companies in China to acquire US export-controlled items and smuggled them through China and Hong Kong to entities associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran. These entities included the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, which is responsible for Iran’s military drone production. The US Department of Justice says that the individuals concealed the fact that the goods were destined for Iran and made material misrepresentations to US companies.

In October 2023, the US Department of Justice issued an advisory regarding the threat posed by Iranian attempts to increase their ballistic missile capabilities and evade international controls. The advisory covered Iran’s efforts to procure US technology, particularly drone technology, and identified China as a frequent intermediary in these transactions. In December, the US government sanctioned companies in Iran, Hong Kong, and Indonesia for alleged roles in helping Iran acquire drone technology.

These charges come in the aftermath of a drone attack on a US military facility in Jordan, which resulted in the deaths of three US service members and multiple injuries. The Pentagon has accused the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah militant group of being responsible for the attack, while a group calling itself the Islamic Resistance of Iraq has claimed responsibility. The indictment against the Chinese nationals also alleges a long-running, intricate conspiracy to violate US laws by procuring US military technology for entities in Iran that would pose a threat to the US.

The US has been increasingly concerned about the transfer of sensitive technology to Iran. It maintains strict export controls to prevent such transfers, particularly those with military applications. The charges against the Chinese nationals indicate a broader US focus on addressing the role of intermediaries, such as China, in facilitating the transfer of controlled technology to Iran. The case also highlights the potential for illicit or unauthorized technology transfer through front companies and misrepresentations. These charges underscore the US commitment to protecting its technological advantage and preventing the use of its technology by adversaries.

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