Cement, Lies, and Iranian Weapons Deals
Quick quiz. What do the following items all have in common?
Bags of cement, crates of marble, polyethylene pellets, lentils, cotton and powdered milk.
Answer: All these items, in recent years, have been used by Iran to conceal illicit weapons cargoes, shipped in alleged violation of United Nations sanctions.
The source for this information is a confidential 14-page report produced by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Iran sanctions, and obtained this Friday by Reuters -- whose Louis Charbonneau has written a story disclosing some of its contents, under the headline "Exclusive -- U.N. experts trace recent seized arms to Iran, violating embargo."
The particular Iranian duplicity on which this UN report focuses is the shipment earlier this year of weapons hidden among bags of cement aboard a Panamanian-flagged ship, the Klos C. The weapons -- including rockets, fuses, 120 mm mortar shells and roughly 400,000 bullets -- were loaded onto the Klos C in an Iranian port. The Klos C then called at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, before heading to the Red Sea, where the ship, making for Sudan, was intercepted by Israeli naval forces.
According to Reuters, the UN panel's confidential report confirms that the weapons hidden aboard the Klos C were shipped from Iran, in violation of UN sanctions. (Apparently the report does not speculate on the ultimate destination for the weapons -- which the Israelis said was Gaza. Nor could the UN experts confirm the Israeli account that the weapons were smuggled into Iran from Syria, before being loaded aboard the Klos C. Perhaps Israeli authorities have better intelligence on Syria, Iran and Gaza than do the eight experts on the UN panel? But the UN report does confirm that the weapons were shipped from Iran).