Reuters: Belarus on Thursday denied news reports that it was helping Iran skirt U.N. sanctions aimed at preventing Tehran from building up its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
MINSK (Reuters) – Belarus on Thursday denied news reports that it was helping Iran skirt U.N. sanctions aimed at preventing Tehran from building up its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
Western diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday that the ex-Soviet republic was becoming a key player in Tehran’s efforts to develop surface-to-surface missile and nuclear capabilities.
They said Belarus was beginning to act as a kind of middleman to help secure the Iranians access to Russian technology and get round U.N. sanctions imposed in 2006.
“This information is wrong. Belarus abides, in a very responsible way, by U.N. sanctions and has never violated them,” foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh told Reuters.
“This information can be considered as another attempt to cast a shadow over our country,” he said.
The U.N. sources told Reuters that the suspicions of Western powers would be raised during a visit by several members of a U.N. panel of experts to Belarus this month.
The experts are visiting to discuss compliance with the U.N. ban on selling Iran nuclear and missile technology, diplomats said.
Tehran is accused by Western powers of developing a nuclear-weapons capability under the guise of a civilian atomic-energy program but says its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.
Iran dismisses all sanctions against it as illegal.
Belarus itself is under U.S. and European Union sanctions since President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, launched a crackdown on protesters in December 2010 following a presidential election that his critics say was rigged.
(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Jon Boyle)