x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UN report says Iran is bypassing sanctions

Western powers say they suspect Iran is developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic energy programme.

NEW YORK // Sanctions have slowed Iran's efforts to develop its controversial nuclear programme, but Tehran is circumventing the curbs by using an international smuggling network and front companies, according to a UN report. A report from the UN Security Council concludes that four rounds of UN sanctions, including embargoes, asset freezes and travel bans, have "clearly forced changes in the way in which Iran procures items".

Iran is believed to be "close to exhausting its supply of uranium oxide" and could be looking for new sources. Tehran now seeks to procure equipment that falls "below the thresholds for listed items, but which are still useful, in an attempt to evade sanctions".

While sanctions are "slowing Iran's nuclear programme" they are "not yet having an effect on the decision calculus of its leadership with respect to halting uranium enrichment and heavy water-related activities", added the report.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has tried to purchase contraband nuclear technology by setting up front companies and using intermediaries abroad. Efforts to breach sanctions are "wilful and continuing", it said.

"Iran's circumvention of sanctions across all areas, in particular front companies, concealment methods in shipping, financial transactions, and the transfer of conventional arms and related materiel, is wilful and continuing," the report said.

Western powers say they suspect Iran is developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian atomic energy programme. The Security Council placed the latest round of sanctions on Tehran in June last year.

Iran insists its only aim is the peaceful generation of electricity and refuses to halt its enrichment programme. A Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr will be fully operational within weeks, it was reported this week.

The report said Iran is breaching an embargo on conventional arms and noted that six of the nine violations of a UN ban on weapons trading involved Syria, which has a "long and close relationship with Iran".

"In all such incidents inspected by the panel, prohibited material was carefully concealed to avoid routine inspection and hide the identity of end-users," the report said.

Nigeria, Turkey, Cyprus, Britain and Germany have reported arms violations.

 

jreinl@thenational.ae