A pressure group called United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) wants Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corporation to end its ongoing business activities in Iran. The latest publicity foray follows calls by UANI for French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen to end its ongoing business activities in Iran. UANI is also pressuring General Motors over what it says is the “impropriety of the Peugeot-GM partnership, and the possibility that it violates U.S. sanctions.”
The purpose of the so-called IRGC Campaign – for Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp. – is to identify companies and entities that are owned, operated or controlled by IRGC, which UANI claims is “the driving ideological, security and military force behind the Iranian regime – and to highlight relationships between these dangerous entities and multinational corporations.”
Mazda is tied to the IRGC through its long-standing partnership with the Bahman Group, a Tehran-based manufacturing conglomerate that is licensed to manufacture Mazda vehicles. Bahman is 45.5% owned by the IRGC’s Sepah Cooperative Foundation, according to UANI. In 2010, Bahman produced a total of 36,891 Mazda vehicles in Iran.
“Mazda should cease its business with the IRGC, considering the IRGC’s major role in Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and in suppressing Iran’s internal pro-democracy movement,” UANI said in a statement.
UANI was founded in 2008 by Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey and Middle East expert Dennis Ross.
UANI also said that automakers such as Mazda that receive federal government contracts should certify with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that it is not engaged in business in Iran, or engaged in the implementation of any agreement with Iranian entities.
A letter to Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi from UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace just released said, in part, “By collaborating with the Bahman Group, Mazda is supporting the IRGC and its ability to pursue weapons of mass destruction and sponsor terrorist acts around the globe. In 2010, a Mazda spokesman claimed Mazda was unaware that Bahman is linked to the IRGC. Mazda can no longer hide behind this veil of ignorance. It is time for Mazda to end its relationship with the Bahman Group and pull out of Iran.”
Mazda did not immediately respond to request for comment, although time zones area factor when dealing with a Japanese company. (See also Anti Nuke Group Wants GM Peugeot to End Iran Business)
In its latest statement GM said, “We have discussed this issue with Peugeot. We understand that they made the decision to suspend the production and shipment of material into Iran some time ago — before we entered into our alliance with them in fact — and have decided to continue with that suspension. Our agreement with them is fully compliant with U.S. law governing trade with Iran, and is not intended to benefit Iran in any way.”