UN sees evidence of Iranian interference in Libyan conflict

UN experts point to “Iranian manufactured Dehlavieh anti-tank guided missile system in possession of an armed group affiliated to the GNA.”
Wednesday 09/12/2020
An Iranian Shalamcheh missile being fired during a military exercise in the Gulf, near the strategic strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. (AFP)
An Iranian Shalamcheh missile being fired during a military exercise in the Gulf, near the strategic strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. (AFP)

NEW YORK / TRIPOLI--New evidence is emerging about Iran’s destablising activity expanding beyond its usual field of interference in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Following a report by UN experts, Tehran is suspected of supplying militants fighting with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya with heavy weapons.

A United Nations analysis of photos of four anti-tank guided missiles in Libya found that one “had characteristics consistent with the Iranian-produced Dehlavieh” missile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported to the Security Council.

However, he said in his biannual report – submitted to the council late that the UN secretariat was not able to ascertain how this anti-tank guided missile was transferred to Libya in violation of Security Council sanctions on Iran.

The 15-member council banned weapons exports by Iran in 2007. Under a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and key global powers, which is enshrined in a Security Council resolution, the arms restrictions were lifted in October this year.

Israel accused Iran of violating sanctions and submitted photos of the anti-tank guided missiles in Libya to Guterres in May. Just weeks later, Iran wrote to Guterres and “categorically rejected” the Israeli claims as “totally baseless.”

Iranian-made anti-tank missiles, which were alledgedly used by Houthi rebels in Yemen, displayed by Arab coalition forces. (AFP)
Iranian-made anti-tank missiles, which were alledgedly used by Houthi rebels in Yemen, displayed by Arab coalition forces. (AFP)

“Based on the Secretariat’s analysis of the photographs provided, the Secretariat established that one of the four anti-tank guided missiles had characteristics consistent with the Iranian-produced Dehlavieh, though no production date for this anti-tank guided missile was visible,” Guterres’ report said.

“The Secretariat is unable to ascertain if this anti-tank guided missile had been transferred to Libya in a manner inconsistent with resolution 2231 (2015),” the report said.

Guterres reports twice a year to the Security Council on the implementation of the 2015 resolution.

Libya has also been subjected to a UN arms embargo since 2011. Independent U.N. experts report separately to the Security Council on the implementation of those measures.

In an excerpt from a confidential interim report submitted in August to the Security Council’s Libya sanctions committee, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, the experts said images taken from social media in November 2019 showed what is “almost certainly an Iranian manufactured Dehlavieh anti-tank guided missile system in possession of an armed group affiliated to the GNA.”

The experts said the transfer of the missile system was a “non-compliance” with the UN arms embargo on Libya, but they did not say who had transferred it.