The United Nations is considering the possibility that Iran just might have figured out how to avoid international sanctions in order to continue that country’s drive to develop nuclear weapons.
According to a confidential new report by a U.N. panel that compliance with international sanctions, Tehran appears to be using its petrochemical industry as a cover to smuggle forbidden items into the Islamic Republic for use in the nuclear program, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
According to Reuters, Iran has apparently slowed import of forbidden substances in recent months, but added that there might be a possibility of subterfuge, “rang(ing) from concealing titanium tubes inside steel pipes to using its petrochemical industry as a cover to obtain items for a heavy-water nuclear reactor.”
The report comes as the international community is preparing for a new round of talks aimed at politely asking Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned for nearly 20 years that Iran was marching towards nuclear weapons capabilities, but the international community has been slow to respond.
According to Reuters, Iranian duplicity includes a set of titanium tubes hidden inside a shipment of stainless steel pipes manufactured in and shipped from China.
The report recommends that governments exercise greater vigilance over freight-forwarding firms, which often appear as the ordering party on shipments of items destined for Iran. While such practices are not necessarily illegal, the panel says Tehran could use them to conceal final destinations or uses.
“In three cases inspected under the current mandate, names of freight forwarders were recorded on shipping documentation in the place of consignors or consignees,” the report said.
“The Panel notes that the International Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA) has issued a notice to its members warning about the increased use of counterfeit Bills of Lading in connection with shipments to and from Iran,” it added.
Another example of Iranian deception is efforts the Ayatollahs have made for the past two years to obtain German and Indian valves for the heavy-water reactor at Arak, a plant that has proven to be a major sticking point in Tehran’s nuclear negotiations. Reuters notes that one investigation refers to Iran’s procurement of 1,767 valves for Modern Industries Technique Company (MITEC) from 2007 through 2011. According to the experts’ 2013 report, 1,163 valves appear to have reached the company.
If the Arak reactor goes online in its current form, it will yield significant amounts of weapons-grade plutonium, but the document merely explains how it would produce radioisotopes that could be used in “radiation processing, radiation therapy, radiography, scanning and tracer purposes and other peaceful applications of nuclear energy”.
Iran has warned for years that the Islamic Republic views “wiping Israel off the map” as s a strategic goal for the country. To that end, Iran has financed years of terror attacks against Israeli civilians via its financing of the Hamas terror gang. In addition, Iran is suspected in a string of terror attacks against Jews around the world, most notably the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina that killed 85 people and wounded over 300.
In addition, Prime Minister Netanyahu has warned Western leaders that it is a mistake to pretend that Iran would refrain from attacking Western targets in Europe and North America if given the opportunity.
However, much of the international community has rejected Israel’s warnings. President Barack Obama has pledged repeatedly not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons “on (my) watch,” but also refused to respond to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s question about what his administration would consider a “red line” that would prompt an American military strike.