* Glencore's aluminum chief to depart, reason unclear
* Iran violates sanctions using front firms, false papers
* It says Iran relies on foreign technology for missile
(Adds details from U.N. experts report)
By Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, May 22 Metals swap deals with
Iran by Switzerland-based commodities giants Glencore Xstrata
and Trafigura could have been a way of
skirting international sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear
program, according to a confidential U.N. Panel of Experts
report seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Reuters reported on March 1 that Glencore had supplied
thousands of tons of alumina to an Iranian firm that has
provided aluminum to Iran's nuclear program, an allegation
Glencore confirmed as accurate. Afterward, Trafigura
acknowledged it had also traded with the same Iranian firm.
Swiss authorities said at the time that they saw no evidence
of U.N. or Swiss sanctions violations by Glencore, but the U.N.
experts, who monitor compliance with the Iran sanctions regime,
raised the possibility that the swap deals were a means of
flouting restrictions on trade with Iran.
"If confirmed, such transactions may reflect an avenue for
procurement of a raw material in a manner that circumvents
sanctions," the 49-page report said in reference to the media
reports on the swap deals. "The companies involved have stated
that they have halted those transactions."
Reuters has sought comment from both companies regarding the
report, which was delivered to the U.N. Security Council's Iran
sanctions committee earlier this month.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Glencore's head of
aluminum, Gary Fegel, is set to leave the company, the first
high-profile departure since the commodity trading giant closed
its purchase of miner Xstrata this month. The timing and reason
for his exit after 12 years at Glencore are unclear.
The experts' annual report said they have found evidence
that Tehran routinely attempts to flout the sanctions applied
against Iran over its nuclear program, which Western powers and
their allies suspect is aimed at producing weapons but the
Iranians say is for peaceful electricity generation.
"Iran continues to seek items for its prohibited activities
from abroad by using multiple and increasingly complex
procurement methods, including front companies, intermediaries,
false documentation, and new routes," the experts said.
"These require additional vigilance and expertise on the
part of states in order to identify suspicious transactions," it
The panel listed 11 violations by Iran since June 2012 and
said it has at least six ongoing investigations into possible
sanctions violations, including the export of machine tools
reported by Spain and the export of technical equipment for use
in satellite technology reported by Germany.
The United States reported transfers and attempted transfers
of items linked to Iran's nuclear program, including vacuum
equipment for test stands, pressure transducers, vacuum pumps
and materials for fabrication of centrifuge machine components
like magnetic tape, marching steel and aluminum alloys.
The United States also reported a violation involving the
transfer of specialized metals to several entities in Iran
associated with the ballistic missile program.
The experts said Iran had not demonstrated any significant
new missile capabilities in the past year, but had continued to
violate Security Council resolution by launching missiles.
"Despite at least the partial success in making its
ballistic missile program indigenous, Iran remains reliant on
foreign suppliers for technology, some components and raw
materials," the panel said.
"Preventing supply of these items is critical for
international efforts to slow Iran's prohibited ballistic
missiles activities," it said, while noting that "no significant
new missile capabilities" had been demonstrated by Iran.
(Additional reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Stacey Joyce
and Paul Simao)