U.N. sanctions committee divided over Iran's 2012 launch of ballistic missiles

Members of the U.N. 1737 Sanctions Committee are divided over whether 2012 ballistic missile launches by Iran were in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1929, the U.N. said on Monday.

Gary Quinlan, the chairman of the committee, updated the council on the committee's activities and said that not all committee members share the view that Iran's July 2012 launch of Shabab I and III missiles constituted a clear violation of resolution 1929. The lack of a unanimous opinion runs counter to a January report by the committee's panel of experts.

In January, the panel unanimously found that launching the Shabab missiles was a violation of the resolution and should result in the imposition of ballistic missile-related sanctions on Iran by member states.

The committee also examined another instance in which a vessel from Iran allegedly carried illicit weapons into a member state. A panel of experts concluded the case was either a violation or a probable violation of resolution 1747. While some committee members said the evidence illustrated a pattern of sanctions evasion through arms smugglings in the Middle East, others said the lack of stronger evidence justifies the lack of a definitive conclusion.

After the briefing, the council's Russian representative said the panel of experts was acting in a personal rather than a national capacity. The representative said the panel's conclusions must be based on only reliable and verifiable information.

The council expressed strong support for continued dialogue with Iran, though some delegations expressed frustration at the lack of progress. The representative from the U.K. said that Iran must cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency or international pressure on the country would continue to grow.