IRGC wins $1 bln Tabriz subway project

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 18 / Trend M. Moezzi /

The Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has signed 12 trillion rial (about $1 billion) contract to build line two of Tabriz subway, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reports.

The contract was signed last Thursday by the mayor of Tabriz, a city in northwestern Iran, and a deputy coordinator for Khatam al-Anbiya. It is for the longest of four lines that are to form Tabriz's metro. Line two will be more than 22 kilometers long with more than 20 stations.

The project is projected to take seven years and $1 billion to finish.

Tabriz's metro is one of the many projects Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, considered Iran's biggest developer, has taken up in the last few years.

The IRGC subsidiary has expanded its activities during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency, getting many oil, gas and road building projects with the government's help.

The head of Khatam al-Anbiya issued a statement late last summer saying, "There is clearly a vacuum in contracting for the oil and gas field. Based on this, and given the need to expedite the exploitation of joint oil fields, this headquarters is doubly motivated to participate in oil projects."

The biggest holder of government contracts, over the last four years the Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters has acquired 1,500 of the government's most important projects for itself.

The group's assets are separate from the government's budget and are not subject to any oversight.

In mid-summer, Rostam Ghasemi, the current oil minister and former head of Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, emphasized the group's undertaking "more than 10 thousand projects" in Iran saying to strengthen the Islamic Revolution large foreign corporations had to be replaced.

The formation of the Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters was taken up by Mohsen Rezaii in 1990 on orders from Ayatollah Khamenei, the head of the Islamic Republic. Today it has 82 companies registered in Iran and abroad, according to the IRGC's own report to the Majlis (parliament) budget commission.

The organization is among those companies subject to sanctions by the United Nations' Security Council because of their links to Iran's nuclear and rocket programs.

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