Iran In Brief

Nuclear Highlights from the Report of U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts on Iran

Nuclear Highlights from the Report of U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts on Iran photo

May 23, 2011

The United Nations Security Council Panel of Experts on Iran recently submitted a report on Iran’s compliance with Security Council resolutions.  Russia has so far blocked on procedural grounds the adoption of the Panel of Experts report by the Security Council.  The report should be adopted without further delay and made available to the general public so that governments and publics can openly assess and develop next best steps toward Iran sanctions enforcement.

Initial media reporting indicates a number of interesting findings:

UN Security Council sanctions resolutions have slowed Iran’s nuclear program, promote export controls:  A key finding from the report is that Iran is indeed constrained in its ability to outfit its nuclear program with the result that its nuclear program has slowed.  The report says that resolutions have succeeded in getting countries to better enforce their export controls or implement new ones targeted at Iran.  According to the report, “Member States are taking a more active role in the implementation process, strengthening export controls, and exercising vigilance through their financial and regulatory bodies, port and customs authorities.” 

Iran must purchase a wide variety of goods for its nuclear program abroad in violation of sanctions:  The committee found that Iran’s gas centrifuge facilities and its heavy water production and Arak reactor programs continue to require goods that it cannot make reliably itself.  As a result, Iran’s smuggling networks must seek these items overseas in violation of UN sanctions.  Most of these goods are not on control lists but can be used directly or modified for use in nuclear programs. 

Iran’s smuggling networks continue to seek goods for Iran’s nuclear program from suppliers in countries with well-developed export control systems, such as the United States and European countries:  ISIS has found that Iran’s gas centrifuge program seeks high-quality goods, such as valves, vacuum pumps, pressure transducers, and machine tools, from established suppliers.  Because these suppliers are in countries with extensive export controls, Iran uses a variety of strategies in its attempts to deceive these suppliers.  Often government authorities detect and thwart these efforts, but Iran undoubtedly succeeds in some cases.

China also remains one of Iran’s procurement targets or transit points:  The report says that Iran continues to buy nuclear dual-use goods in China.  The report also indicates that China has cooperated with the Panel in its efforts to understand illicit procurement practices of Iran.

Based on ISIS’s information, Iran also buys a variety of critical goods in China by hiring private Chinese companies to acquire the items from Chinese subsidiaries of Western or Asian suppliers under false pretenses, and then Iran arranges the smuggling of these goods out of China. 

As a result of Iran’s on-going smuggling activities in violation of UN Security Council sanctions resolutions, all countries need to exercise greater vigilance in implementing and enforcing these resolutions. 

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