Risky Business: U.S. Defense Companies Participate In DIMDEX Alongside Sanctioned Iranian Entities

(New York, N.Y.)In March, the Qatar Armed Forces “hosted and organized” the biannual Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) that paradoxically featured major U.S. defense contractors alongside U.S.-sanctioned Iranian officials and entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military personnel – and the U.S.-sanctioned Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

The Iranian entities displayed a variety of drones, missiles, and other arms capabilities that are routinely deployed against the U.S. and its allies. It is unclear whether any of drones or missiles used by Tehran to attack Israel on April 13 were of the variety showcased at DIMDEX.

According to press reports, U.S. allies including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates declined to sponsor a country pavilion. The U.S. did, however, and had its largest ever showing at DIMDEX, which opened its pavilion with remarks from U.S. Charge d’Affaires Natalie A. Baker.

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) contacted each of the 16 U.S. companies in attendance at the U.S. pavilion including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, inquiring whether they were aware of the sanctioned Iranian entities’ presence at the conference prior to attendance and would commit to declining sponsorship of any future event where an Iranian delegation is invited and consulting with the U.S. government about the growing threat of Iranian officials gathering sensitive military technology information and intelligence at conferences like DIMDEX.

UANI has yet to receive a response from any of the companies.

mohammad ashtiani_Iran us-sanctioned defense minister at DIMDEX 2024

Mohammad Ashtiani (in uniform), Iran’s U.S.-sanctioned defense minister, at DIMDEX 2024 (IRIB News)

The letters detail myriad concerns surrounding U.S. companies’ potential interaction with these entities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has noted that “entities affiliated with MODAFL help produce Iranian weapons systems, including UAVs, many of which are transferred to Russia or are provided to Iran’s web of proxy and partner groups to use against U.S., allied, and partner interests throughout the Middle East.”

Tehran reports having sold about $1 billion in weapons from March 2022 to March 2023. These sales are made possible thanks to the international community’s failure to extend the international arms embargo imposed on Iran beyond an arbitrary sunset of October 2020 as prescribed by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). At the time, UANI warned that “France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China have decided to allow Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism and regional aggressor, to lawfully acquire advanced weapons systems from abroad. Restrictions on Iran’s export of arms will also expire. In doing so, they undermine the essential peacekeeping mission of the United Nations.”

To read copies of UANI’s correspondence, please click here.