Iran accused by US official of seeking banned nuclear components
Iran has pursued a longstanding effort to buy banned components for its nuclear and missile programs in recent months, a US official said today, a period when it struck an interim deal with major powers to limit its disputed atomic activity.
Vann Van Diepen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said Iran was still "very actively" creating front companies and engaging in other activity to conceal procurements.
The reported supplies do not contravene last year's breakthrough agreement between Tehran and six world powers to curb its most sensitive atomic activity in exchange for some limited easing of sanctions damaging its economy.
But such trade would breach a 2006 UN embargo banning the provision by any nation to Iran of materials related to its nuclear and missile development work. Western experts say such low-profile procurement efforts by Iran date back many years, perhaps decades in the case of its nuclear activity.
Asked if he had seen a change in Iranian procurement behavior in the past six to 12 months, a period that has seen a cautious thaw in US-Iranian relations after decades of hostility, Van Diepen replied: "The short answer is no.
"They still continue very actively trying to procure items for their nuclear program and missile program and other programs," he told Reuters in an interview.
"We continue to see them very actively setting up and operating through front companies, falsifying documentation, engaging in multiple levels of trans-shipment ... to put more apparent distance between where the item originally came from and where it is ultimately going."
Asked for reaction to the allegation, a senior Iranian official replied: "No comment".