UAE and Bahrain seize suspicious shipments which 'may' have been for Iran's nuclear programme

The UAE reported to the UN Security Council's Iran sanctions committee that it had made some 15 interceptions of suspicious items bound for Iran over the last three years

ABU DHABI // The UAE and Bahrain have both confiscated items Iran may have needed for its nuclear programme, a sign that United Nations sanctions are being better enforced.

“The fact that these two countries are now taking steps to enforce the sanctions and reporting those steps to the UN is remarkable by itself,” a senior Security Council diplomat said.

“It shows that the UN sanctions regime can work. UAE has been one of Iran’s enablers. Iran’s becoming more isolated.”

The Security Council imposed four rounds of sanctions on Tehran between 2006 and 2010, to punish the Islamic Republic for defying demands to suspend its uranium enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities.

UAE authorities insist their policy has always been to abide fully by UN regulations and co-operate with the sanctions committee.

A UAE official, who declined to be identified, played down the reports to the Iran committee.

“All incidents were reported at the time when they happened, and there has been no incident in more than a year,” the official said. He did not comment further.

The UAE reported to the sanctions committee that it had made 15 interceptions of suspicious items bound for Iran over the past three years, diplomats said. In some cases, it returned seized items to the original shipping countries, diplomats said.

Among the firms involved was Kalaye Electric Co in Tehran, the former centre of Iran’s enrichment centrifuge research and development programme.

No details about the items confiscated by the UAE were available, but the three items intercepted by Bahrain included carbon fibre, a dual-use material identified by a UN panel as key to Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuge programme.

Published: September 19, 2012 04:00 AM