Western diplomats: Belarus suspected of helping Iran skirt sanctions
Belarus is the latest country that Western powers suspect of helping Iran skirt U.N. sanctions aimed at preventing it from expanding its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, Western diplomats said, Reuters reported.
The suspicions were expected to be raised during a visit by several members of a U.N. panel of experts to Belarus this month to discuss compliance with the U.N. ban on selling Iran nuclear and missile technology, diplomats said.
Diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Belarus is beginning to act as a kind of middleman to help secure the Iranianirans access to Russian technology.
"Belarus is becoming a key element in Iran's efforts to develop its SSM (surface-to-surface missile) and nuclear capabilities, especially with regard to navigation and guidance products, which are defined as dual-use," a diplomat said.
"Belarus is becoming increasingly important to Iran, due to the drastic reduction in Iran's ability to procure products from countries such as China, Russia and Dubai, which used to be its major sources of such procurement," he said.
Several Western diplomats confirmed his remarks about Iran and Belarus, including the Iranians' interest in navigation and guidance technology for their missile program.
The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.
The United Nations has imposed four rounds of Security Council sanctions over Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for an atomic bomb.