UNITED NATIONS - A UN Security Council committee has expanded its Iran blacklist to include two Iranian individuals and one firm for attempting to skirt UN sanctions by shipping arms to Africa in 2010, the US envoy to the United Nations said on Friday.
"The individuals listed today helped plan a weapons shipment - intercepted by Nigeria in 2010 - in violation of existing UN sanctions," US Ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement.
"Both individuals and this company are tied to the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the group that directs Iranian support for terrorism and extremism worldwide," she said.
According to the UN Iran sanctions committee website, the newly sanctioned individuals include Azim Aghajani, member of the IRGC elite Qods Force, and Ali Akbar Tabatabaei, whom it describes as a "senior officer responsible for IRGC Qods Force operations."
The sanctioned firm is the Behineh Trading Co., which the sanctions committee list describes as "one of the two Iranian companies that played key roles in Iran's illicit transfer of arms to West Africa and acted on behalf of the IRGC Qods Force as the shipper of the weapons consignment."
One council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the new blacklistings, which were proposed by Britain last month, were the first additions since the council adopted its last sanctions resolution on Iran in June 2010.
Nigerian authorities submitted an official complaint to the Iran sanctions committee about the arms it seized. Tehran said at the time it was a legitimate trade deal with Gambia.
Weapons Nigeria confiscated in the seizure included 107mm rockets, designed to attack static targets and used by armies to support infantry units.
The 15-nation council has imposed four rounds of increasingly tough sanctions on Tehran for refusing to halt sensitive nuclear work.
The travel bans and asset freezes the council has imposed have mostly targeted Iran's nuclear and missile industries, as well as financial institutions and other firms that support those industries. Iran is also banned from exporting weapons.
Tehran rejects Western allegations that its nuclear program is aimed at developing atomic weapons.