U.N. Says Iran Violated Arms Ban

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UNITED NATIONS—Tehran has shipped conventional weapons to Syria in violation of a U.N. arms-export ban, according to a new U.N. report, which also concludes that U.N. sanctions are constraining Iran‘s pursuit of materiel for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The report, reviewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, says sanctions are working because nations are “taking a more active role” in implementing them at ports and customs points and through financial and regulatory bodies. “Sanctions have clearly forced changes in the way in which Iran procures items” that are banned by the U.N., the report by a U.N. panel of experts says.

The report said six of the nine reported violations of conventional-arms shipments from Iran were to Syria—whose government is now conducting a broad and deadly crackdown on antiregime protesters. In all such incidents, the arms were found to be “carefully concealed” to avoid inspection and hide the identity of the end user.

“It is likely that other transfers took place undetected and that other illicit shipments were identified but not reported” to the U.N.’s sanctions committee, it says.

Syria has denied the allegations, according to the report.

The U.N. sanctions against Iran, imposed in four Security Council resolutions, are intended to force Iran to suspend uranium enrichment until the International Atomic Energy Agency can determine if Tehran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, as it claims.

U.N. investigators regularly interview government officials in the region to determine the sanctions’ effectiveness, but the report noted that because of the “unprecedented social and political upheaval” in the Middle East, they are unable to question “key” governments in the region. It doesn’t name the countries. Some countries have also “failed to welcome” the U.N. experts’ “inspection activity.”

After business hours Wednesday evening, IAEA officials didn’t respond to emails and phone calls requesting comment.

The report said Iran continued “willful” circumvention of sanctions through the use of “front companies, concealment methods in shipping, financial transactions and the transfer of conventional arms.”

Front companies set up by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps “carry out procurement and to export covert shipments of conventional weapons,” it says.

On its nuclear-weapons program, Iran “maintains its uranium enrichment and heavy water-related activities,” in violation of the sanctions and continues to test proscribed ballistic missiles, the report says.

The report makes a series of recommendations including the names of new individuals and companies to be put on the U.N.’s sanction list and to make available on the Internet the proscribed items so that nations may more easily monitor their transport.

Write to Joe Lauria at newseditor@wsj.com

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