9 arrested for arms trade to Iran

Meanwhile, US and EU follow IAEA's lead in supporting "deeper" sanctions.

March 3, 2010 15:59
2 minute read.
The table with some of the weapons seized during t

italy iran weapons 311. (photo credit: AP)

Nine arrest warrants have been issued for suspected arms trafficking to Iran in defiance of the international embargo, Milan police said Wednesday.

A statement from Italy's border police said both Italians and Iranians were among the suspects but did not identify them further.

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Police said the suspects were accused in the illegal export of arms and armament systems. They did not describe the arms.

Milan-based anti-terrorism prosecutor Armando Spataro is expected to give more details at a news conference Wednesday.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the US and Europe said they share UN fears that Teheran may be secretly working on developing nuclear missiles, expressing support for new sanctions if Teheran continues to defy Security Council demands.

Their comments reflected the change in tone of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under new director-general Yukiya Amano in its assessment of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Amano, in a recent report prepared for this week's board meeting, expressed the possibility that Iran may be working on making a nuclear warhead, with the IAEA suggesting for the first time that Teheran had either resumed such work or never stopped it three years ago, as thought by US intelligence agencies.

Iran denies any interest in developing nuclear arms. But the report said Iran's resistance to agency attempts to investigate for signs of a nuclear cover-up "give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."

An unusually strongly worded statement delivered by Spain on behalf of the EU to the IAEA's 35-nation board criticized Teheran on a wide range of issues linked to concerns that its nuclear program may be a front for clandestine efforts to make atomic warheads.

"The EU shares the agency's concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," according to the statement.

Beyond making the same point, US chief delegate Glyn Davies said the IAEA is justified in being concerned that Teheran — accused of repeatedly concealing suspicious nuclear activities or revealing them only to pre-empt being found out — "about the possible construction in secret of other new nuclear facilities in Iran."

Wednesday's EU statement also expressed support for new UN Security Council "action" if Iran continues its nuclear defiance — diplomatic language for a fourth set of UN. sanctions. Davies, too, said the international community has "no choice but to pursue further, deeper sanctions to hold Iran accountable" if it persists in shrugging off Security Council demands.

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