Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Trucks transporting Syrian army soldiers are seen on a road near Idlib city, during a field visit by U.N. observers to the Idlib areas, May 9, 2012. The observers are visiting one of the locations where there were protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. (Reuters/Reuters)
Trucks transporting Syrian army soldiers are seen on a road near Idlib city, during a field visit by U.N. observers to the Idlib areas, May 9, 2012. The observers are visiting one of the locations where there were protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime. (Reuters/Reuters)

Iran defying UN ban by arming Syrian war Add to ...

Syria remains the top destination for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a UN Security Council ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic, according to a confidential report on Iran sanctions-busting seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Iran, like Russia, is one of Syria’s few allies as it presses ahead with a 14-month-old assault on opposition forces determined to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

More related to this story

News of the report came as Tehran and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency try narrow their differences on how to tackle concerns over Iran’s atomic program, and as Iran prepares for talks with the five permanent council members and Germany in Iraq next week.

The new report, submitted by a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, said the panel investigated three large illegal shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year.

“Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments,” it stated. “Two of these cases involved [Syria] as were the majority of cases inspected by the panel during its previous mandate, underscoring that Syria continues to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers.”

The third shipment involved rockets that Britain said last year were headed for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

“The panel recommends the [blacklisting]of two entities related to these interdictions,” it said. “The report also takes note of information concerning arms shipments by Iran to other destinations.”

The kinds of arms that Iran was attempting to send to Syria before the shipments were seized by Turkish authorities included assault rifles, machine guns, explosives, detonators, 60 mm and 120 mm mortal shells and other items, the panel said.

The most recent incident described in the report was an arms shipment discovered in a truck that Turkey seized on its border with Syria in February. Turkey announced last year that it was imposing an arms embargo on Syria.

Diplomats told Reuters that the panel’s draft report may be changed by the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee before it is submitted to the council itself for consideration.

It was unclear how long it would take the committee to pass the report to the Security Council. Last year’s expert panel report on Iran was never made public because Russia blocked its publication.The report also discusses Iran’s attempts to circumvent sanctions on its nuclear program but notes that the four rounds of punitive measures the 15-nation Security Council imposed on Iran between 2006 and 2010 are having an impact.

“Sanctions are slowing Iran’s procurement of some critical items required for its prohibited nuclear program,” it said. “At the same time prohibited activities continue, including uranium enrichment.”

Among the items Iran has attempted to procure for its nuclear program, the panel said, were nuclear-grade graphite, high-strength aluminum, powder, specialized alloys, maraging steel, carbon fibre, magnets, vacuum pumps, turbines, electrical switchboards and helium gas detectors.

“The panel identifies the acquisition of high-grade carbon fibre as one of a number of critical items Iran requires for the development of more advanced centrifuges,” the report said, adding that nations should be on alert for illicit attempts to acquire such items.Iran rejects allegations by Western countries and their allies that it is secretly developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. It has refused to suspend its enrichment program as demanded by the Security Council despite being hit with increasingly draconian UN and various national sanctions.

The report said Iran has been trying to circumvent UN and other unilateral sanctions on financial firms by using correspondence-banking relationships with institutions not under sanctions, and appears to be relying on Iranians abroad to carry out such transfers. Transfer traffic has risen sharply, it said.

The panel said it had received information about a small firm set up abroad by an Iranian national that was involved in funds transfers to various recipients worldwide. The firm, which the report did not identify, had processed transfers amounting to some $11-billion (U.S.) over an 18-month period, it said.



















Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories