Belarus 'may have helped Iran flout sanctions'
United Nations , September 16, 2011
Belarus is the latest country that Western powers suspect of helping Iran to skirt UN sanctions aimed at preventing Tehran from expanding its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, Western diplomats told Reuters.
If the suspicions are confirmed, already isolated Belarus would join China, Russia, Syria, North Korea, Turkey and other states Western powers believe have helped Tehran flout UN
measures since the Security Council adopted its first sanctions resolution against Iran in late 2006.
The suspicions are likely to have been raised during a visit by several members of a UN panel of experts to Belarus this week to discuss compliance with the UN ban on selling Iran nuclear and missile technology, diplomats said.
Tehran, accused by Western powers and their allies of developing nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a civilian atomic energy program, says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity. Iran also dismisses all sanctions against it as illegal.
Diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Belarus is beginning to act as a kind of middleman to help secure Iranian access to Russian technology.
"Belarus is becoming a key element in Iran's efforts to develop its SSM (surface-to-surface missile) and nuclear capabilities, especially with regard to navigation and guidance products, which are defined as dual-use," a diplomat said.
"Belarus is becoming increasingly important to Iran, due to the drastic reduction in Iran's ability to procure products from countries such as China, Russia and Dubai, which used to be its major sources of such procurement."
Several Western diplomats confirmed his remarks about Iran and Belarus, including the Iranian interest in navigation and guidance technology for the missile program.
Belarus quickly denied the charges.
"This information is wrong. Belarus abides, in a very responsible way, by UN sanctions and has never violated them," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh said. "This information can be considered as another attempt to cast a shadow over our country." -Reuters