UNITED NATIONS - Western members of the UN Security Council blasted Iran on Thursday for providing Syrian President Bashar Assad with weapons to help him crush an 18-month-long uprising by rebels determined to topple his government.

"Iran's arms exports to the murderous Assad regime in Syria are of particular concern," US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the 15-nation council during a meeting on the world body's Iran sanctions regime.

She cited a May 2012 report by the UN panel of experts that monitors compliance with four rounds of Security Council sanctions against Tehran. That report concluded Syria was now the "central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers."

Tehran is forbidden from selling weapons under a UN arms embargo, which is part of broader sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Tehran rejects allegations from Western powers and their allies that it is seeking atomic weapons and has defied council demands that it halt nuclear enrichment.

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