Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad AFP photo

The United States said on Friday that both Iran and North Korea are trying to obtain high-tech materials linked to their nuclear programs, in violation of UN sanctions.

According to Thomas Countryman, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, Iran was also sending weapons and ammunition to Syrian government forces despite a ban.

“Both Iran and North Korea have developed channels that enable them to continue to export and continue to procure the items they need for their weapons industry,” Countryman said during a news briefing in Geneva.

He added that Iran and North Korea are under UN sanctions banning sales of nuclear, missile and related high-tech material to them as well as the export of any military material.

There was a determined international effort to enforce the UN sanctions and prevent such trade, emphasized Countryman.

The commander of U.S. Central Command warned recently that Iran’s behavior poses the greatest risk to stability in the Middle East.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis said, “Iran remains the single-most significant regional threat to stability and prosperity.”

Mattis, the top U.S. Commander in the Middle East, added that the Iranian government’s “reckless behavior and bellicose rhetoric characterize a leadership that cannot win the affection of its own people or the respect of any responsible nation in the region.”

He said that the current sanctions and diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities are not working, noting that Tehran has a history of denial and deceit and is enriching uranium beyond any plausible peaceful purpose.

General Mattis said that while it may still be possible to use sanctions and other pressure to bring Tehran to its senses, Iran is using the negotiations to buy time.

Israel's UN Ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned last week against the continued advancement of Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Addressing a session of the Security Council, Prosor said that Iran's nuclear arms program is "hurtling forward at the speed of an express train, while the international community's attempts to stop it are advancing at the rate of a local bus."

"As the centrifuges in Iran continue to spin," he added, "the Iranian regime has the international spinning with lies and manipulations."

"Iran is the greatest threat to the region's stability," he stressed.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)