iranian anti-aircraft missile_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)
NATIONS - Russia is attempting to suppress a United Nations report that
says Iran has been breaking a UN arms embargo by shipping weapons to
Syria, Western diplomats said on Thursday.
"Russia has objected
to the publication of the report as an official Security Council
document," a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Several other diplomats confirmed it.
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"It's obviously an attempt
to protect (Syrian President) Bashar Assad," who is coming under
increasing international pressure over his violent crackdown on
anti-government protesters, another council diplomat said.
confidential report, obtained by Reuters, said most of Iran's breaches
of the embargo have been deliveries of weapons to Syria, which Western
diplomats say were to be passed on to Lebanese and Palestinian
The report by the UN Security Council's so-called
Panel of Experts, a newly formed committee that reports on compliance
with four rounds of UN sanctions imposed on Iran for refusing to halt
its nuclear enrichment program, also says Tehran flouts the sanctions as
it continues to develop its atomic program.
Russia offered a procedural justification for objecting to the
publication of the report -- it should first be discussed by the
Security Council's Iran sanctions committee before being released to the
"Eventually they'll have to give in but we don't know how long it will take," a diplomat said.
is able to block the Iran report because decisions about such reports
are made by consensus among the 15 members of the Security Council.
decision to block the report comes as diplomats said Britain and France
were attempting to revive plans to have the Security Council condemn
Syria for its crackdown against demonstrators.
A previous attempt failed after Russia, China and India objected to the proposed condemnation.
A spokesman for Russia's UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
has prevented the publication of similar U. expert panel reports on
North Korea and Sudan, two countries that Beijing routinely tries to
shield from Security Council criticism, for as long as half a year.
Russia has long acted as a kind of protector for Iran on the council,
working hard to dilute the four sanctions resolutions on Iran between
2006 and 2010 before voting in favor of them. It also has close
commercial ties to the Islamic Republic.
A senior Russian diplomat was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying
on Thursday that Iran's Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant will
be fully operational within weeks.