Iran is quietly helping Syria evade US and European Union sanctions by selling its oil on the international market, US officials have discovered. Transit records show that one shipment last month saw more than 91000 metric tons of crude sent to Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports. An Iranian spokesman at the UN confirmed as much, saying there were no international sanctions against Syria that Iran was required to respect. He added that outside powers, not Iran, were sending weapons to Damascus.
The outside power in question? Russia. Cyprus this week intercepted a Russian ship bearing four containers full of munitions that was bound for Syria. Cyprus released the ship only after it promised not to deliver the weapons, but Russia's foreign minister defended the shipment yesterday. "We do not feel we have to explain or justify anything because we are not violating any international agreements," he said. The US hasn't been able to get the UN Security Council to agree to an arms embargo because of Russian objections. (Read more sanctions stories.)