AFP: Iran is using its warm relations with Venezuela to dodge UN sanctions and use Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria, an Italian newspaper reported Sunday.
ROME (AFP) — Iran is using its warm relations with Venezuela to dodge UN sanctions and use Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria, an Italian newspaper reported Sunday.
Citing US and other Western intelligence agencies, La Stampa said Iran is using aircraft from Venezuelan airline Conviasa to transport computers and engine components to Syria for use in missiles.
The material comes from Iranian industrial group Shahid Bagheri, listed in the annex of UN Security Council Resolution 1737, adopted in December 2006, for involvement in Iran's ballistic missile programme.
The resolution instructed all nations to "prevent the supply, sale or transfer" of all material or technology that could be used for Iran's nuclear enrichment programme and the development of weapons to carry nuclear warheads.
Syria is a close ally of Iran in the Middle East, with the two nations having signed a military cooperation pact in June 2006.
In return for providing aircraft, Iran has made available to Caracas members of its Revolution Guards and the elite Al-Quds unit to train and reinforce the Venezuelan police and secret services, La Stampa reported.
Iran denies Western and Israeli suspicions that it is developing nuclear weapons, asserting that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only. It nevertheless defies a UN demand to halt uranium enrichment.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez — who share deep hostility towards the United States and the outgoing Bush administration — have signed several agreements on economic cooperation.
Chavez has also voiced support for Iran's nuclear programme.
Iran's Shahab-3 missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,280 miles), capable of hitting Israel as well as US military bases in the Middle East.