European Firms Display Wares in Iran
Lisa Myers & the NBC investigative unit: View the video clip here.
As President Bush pressures European allies to get tougher with Iran, NBC News got a rare glimpse inside the country — at an Iranian air show attended by some of the world's leading military contractors eager to do business with America's adversary.
On the island of Kish, mullahs mixed with Ukrainian generals amid photos of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran's contempt for the United States was clear — emblazoned underneath a helicopter, in Farsi: "Death to America."
It's generally illegal for American companies to do business with Iran. But NBC News found more than a dozen European defense and aviation firms eager to fill the void. Some do business with the Pentagon, yet they were actively selling their wares to Iran.
"We sell to Iran [sic] Air Force," said Francois Leloup from Aerazur, a French company that markets fighter pilot vests, anti-gravity suits and other protective gear for military pilots.
"We sell mainly to security people like police," said Arnaud Chevalier with Auxiliaire Technique, which was representing a group of companies at its exhibition booth. Some of the brochures on dispay showed tank helmets, communication systems for light armored vehicles and an "infantry headset." Chevalier said such equipment was "not for sale."
NBC News showed our video from the air show to arms expert John Pike, director of the nonprofit organization GlobalSecurity.org.
"I think that the Europeans would sell their grandmothers to the Iranians if they thought they could make a buck," says Pike. ...