UN: Countries fail to report Iran sanctions violations

According to a report by a UN panel of experts, some states prefer to look the other way while P5+1, Tehran negotiate nuclear deal

Then-US Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on May 30, 2015 in Geneva. (AFP / POOL / SUSAN WALSH)
Then-US Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on May 30, 2015 in Geneva. (AFP / POOL / SUSAN WALSH)

A UN report detailed suspicions that some countries are failing to report Iranian violations of Security Council-imposed sanctions against the country’s nuclear program.

According to Bloomberg on Tuesday, a panel of experts for the UN committee on Iran sanctions filed a report on June 1 saying: “The current situation with reporting could reflect a general reduction of procurement activities by the Iranian side or a political decision by some member states to refrain from reporting to avoid a possible negative impact on ongoing [nuclear] negotiations.”

Iran and the P5+1 powers are negotiating a comprehensive agreement to curb Iran’s contested nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief ahead of a June 30 deadline.

The emerging deal has many opponents, including Israel, which has argued that the agreement does not go far enough. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the deal paves the way for a nuclear-armed Iran and threatens Israel’s very existence.

The UN report asked whether the US, European countries and others had looked the other way while violations occurred.

One unnamed country said Iran tried to illegally import a nuclear compressor.

Two other unnamed countries said that Iran was making financial transactions related to its nuclear program through banks outside Iran that aren’t under sanctions, one of which came under the controlling shares of Iranian businessmen in 2011, according to the report.

The report also cited the violation of a UN-mandated travel ban on General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, who visited Iraq, Syria and Lebanon recently “reportedly organizing and training militia and regular forces in those countries,” — a visit ignored by world countries despite “a number of media reports with photographs and videos.”

In late April, Reuters reported that the UK had informed the panel of an “active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms.”

“The UK government informed the Panel on 20 April 2015 that it ‘is aware of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network which has been associated with Iran’s Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) and Kalay Electric Company (KEC),” according to the panel of experts which filed a report at the time.

Meanwhile, on Monday, a senior US State Department official said Iran has upheld all of its obligations under an interim nuclear agreement with the group of six world powers.

Speaking to the administration’s resolve to reach an effective long-term agreement with Iran, Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told an audience at the American Jewish Committee’s annual Global Forum that Israel’s security had already been improved under the provisions of the temporary agreement that went into effect in January 2014, known as the Joint Plan of Action.

Acknowledging that Israel and the United States have disagreed as to the steps necessary to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, Blinken said that “we may have our differences, but our bedrock security relationship is sacrosanct and it is stronger than ever. It is at the center of our minds when we sit at the negotiating table with Iran.”

He added that “there is not an inch of daylight between the US and Israel” regarding the “core strategic goal” of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

Blinken argued that Israel is safer now from a nuclear Iran than it was 18 months ago, before the Joint Plan of Action was implemented and Iran received partial sanctions relief.

The deputy secretary’s comments came a week after a report in The New York Times cast new doubt on Iran’s adherence to the guidelines or intent under the JPOA. The report showed that according to international inspectors, Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent in the period since nuclear negotiations began.

Although the administration has disputed the significance of the report’s revelations, the news provided new ammunition for the deal’s opponents who say that Iran’s nuclear program has not been “frozen.”

Speaking against Congressional proposals to dangle the threat of increased sanctions over negotiators’ heads as a tool to increase pressure for a “good” deal, Blinken said that “it is a fantasy to believe that Iran will simply capitulate to every demand if we ratchet up the pressure through increasing sanctions.”

Warning that a collapse of talks due to such a move would make the US, not Iran, more isolated, Blinken challenged the deal’s opponents to “tell the people of the United States exactly what they’d do differently and exactly how they’d get it done.”

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