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Muslims Got Iranian Arms, Bosnian Says

From Associated Press

The Muslim-led government’s army received weapons and explosives smuggled from Iran and elsewhere in violation of a 1991 U.N. arms embargo, a senior Bosnian military source said Friday.

The report of the shipments came a day after the U.S. Senate voted to urge President Clinton to work to lift the U.N. arms embargo on the Bosnian government, which is outgunned by the Bosnian Serbs.

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s government has long pleaded for an end to the arms embargo, which has effectively left it the only faction in the country without heavy weapons.

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The Bosnian source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Bosnian army received hundreds of antitank rockets. The source claimed that they were American-made but would not say what country sent them.

He said the rockets reached the Croatian coast aboard a ship from Brazil.

A U.N. military analyst in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he had no knowledge of such a military shipment to Bosnia.

The Bosnian army source also confirmed that explosives and other raw materials for ammunition had come from Iran.

The Washington Post reported last Friday that Iran delivered about 60 tons of these supplies to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, last week. They were in crates marked “Humanitarian Aid” and “No Smoking,” the paper said.

Citing unidentified diplomats and Bosnian Muslim sources, the Post said an Iranian Boeing 747 jumbo jet delivered the shipment May 4, two days before a visit to Bosnia and Croatia by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati.

Cmdr. Eric Chaperon, a U.N. spokesman in Sarajevo, said he found it hard to imagine that an Iranian jumbo jet could land in Croatia, which also is under the 1991 arms embargo, and that no one policing the embargo would have inspected the goods.

The apparent U.N. doubts about the reports raised speculation that the Bosnian army might want Serbian troops to believe that the Muslims have more sophisticated weaponry than they actually do.

In Zagreb, Josip Rajcic, a Croatian Defense Ministry spokesman, denied that his country played any role in violating the embargo, and Interior Ministry spokesman Mladen Lackovic denied any knowledge of weapons smuggling.

Croatian officials impounded a large shipment of rifles and ammunition that arrived in Zagreb aboard an Iranian-owned Boeing 747 in September, 1992. That shipment, listed as humanitarian aid, was believed to have been intended for Bosnian Muslims.

Asked about the reports of Iranian military shipments, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Friday in Geneva: “I suppose it’s only inevitable--not desirable, but inevitable--that there will be some leakage.” But, he added, “the United States expects compliance with the embargo.”


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