Bahrain, UAE seize shipments headed to Iran
United Nations, September 19, 2012
Bahrain and the UAE have confiscated a number of items Iran may have sought for its nuclear program, a development that diplomats said showed how enforcement of UN sanctions against Tehran is steadily improving.
One of the items heading to Iran but confiscated by Bahrain was carbon fiber, the diplomats told Reuters, a dual-use material UN experts have said would be crucial if Iran was to develop more advanced nuclear enrichment centrifuge technology.
Bahrain's and UAE's confidential reports to the UN Security Council's Iran sanctions committee are politically significant, envoys said on condition of anonymity, since they highlight how more and more states are enforcing the sanctions and making it increasingly difficult for Tehran to flout them.
"The fact that these two countries are now taking steps to enforce the sanctions and reporting those steps to the UN is remarkable by itself," a senior Security Council diplomat told Reuters.
The emirate Dubai has long been one of Iran's main transit hubs because of its busy port and position as a key financial centre. Th e Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think-tank wrote in July 2011 th at Dubai was "a top source of Iranian imports and a key transshipment point for goods - legal and illegal - destined for the Islamic Republic."
But pressure from the US and other Western powers to crack down on Iranian sanctions violations has borne some fruit in the form of redoubled efforts to enforce the sanctions and report to the sanctions committee, Western envoys say.
The Security Council imposed four rounds of UN sanctions on Tehran between 2006 and 2010 to punish it for defying Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities.
Tehran rejects charges it is developing the capability to produce atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is intended solely for the peaceful production of electricity.
UAE officials insist that the country's policy has always been to fully abide by UN regulations and cooperate with the sanctions committee. A UAE official who declined to be identified played down the reports to the Iran committee.
"All incidents were reported at the time when they happened, and there has been no incident in more than a year," the official told Reuters. He did not comment further.
Bahrain's mission to the United Nations in New York did not reply to a request for comment, and officials in Bahrain were not immediately available to comment.
Bahrain has become increasingly annoyed with what it says are attempts by Iran to undermine its government.
UN diplomats say that some countries could also do more to enforce the sanctions. They say it is important for China, Russia, India, Turkey and others to counter Iranian attempts to use their territory to circumvent international sanctions.
The UAE reported to the council's Iran sanctions committee that it had made some 15 interceptions of suspicious items bound for Iran over the last three years, diplomats said.
"Some of those items have been cleared as OK but some remain under investigation," a UN diplomatic source told Reuters.
Diplomats said that reports from the UAE, Bahrain and other countries would likely be mentioned in a briefing later this week for the 15-nation council by Colombia's UN envoy Nestor Osorio, who chairs the Iran sanctions committee. - Reuters