U.N. experts recommend sanctioning two Iran firms

Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:18pm EDT

* UK supports sanctioning the firms

* UK envoy says Iranian firms skirted UN arms embargo

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (Reuters) - An independent panel of experts has recommended that the U.N. Security Council's Iran sanctions committee add two Iranian firms to a U.N. blacklist for violating a U.N. ban on arms exports by Tehran.

The recommendation to sanction Iran's Yas Air and SAD Import-Export is included in a confidential report by the panel of experts, seen by Reuters last month, which U.N. Security Council diplomats said was due to be released in the near future.

That report said Syria remained the top destination for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a U.N. Security Council ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic.

Britain's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Philip Parham told the U.N. Security Council o n T uesday that London supported the panel's recommendation of sanctioning the two firms.

"Iran continues flagrantly to violate this council's resolutions," he said at a meeting on the United Nations' sanctions regime for Iran.

"We welcome the panel's recommendations for next steps for the (Iran sanctions) committee," he said. "We support the two clear designation proposals, Yas Air and SAD Import Export Company, for their respective roles in illegal Iran arms exports."

It was not clear when the Iran sanctions committee would make a decision on whether to add Yas Air and SAD Import Export to the list of companies facing an international asset freeze and banishment from doing business worldwide.

Earlier this year the U.S. Treasury Department imposed U.S. sanctions on Yas Air, which is an Iranian cargo airline, along with three Iranian military officials and a Nigerian shipping agent for supporting illegal arms shipments to the Middle East and Africa.

The council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its nuclear enrichment program, which the United States, European Union and their allies suspect is at the heart of a weapons program. Iran rejects the allegation and refuses to halt what it says is a peaceful energy program.

Parham and German Ambassador Peter Wittig welcomed the agreement among council members to publish the panel of experts report, which details Iran's attempts to skirt sanctions. Last year's report has never been published because Russia opposes its release, Western diplomats say. (Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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