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U.S. At UN Accuses Iran Of Smuggling Illegal Arms To Hizballah In Lebanon

UN peacekeepers patrol near the Lebanese-Israeli border.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has accused Iran of illegally smuggling arms to its ally Hizballah in Lebanon and sharply criticized the United Nations peacekeeping commander there for being "blind" to the activity.

The commander, Major General Michael Beary, has rejected allegations by the United States and Israel that Hizballah is illegally stockpiling arms in the country.

With the 10,500-member peacekeeping mission up for renewal next week, Haley has been pushing for a strengthened mandate to stop the flow of weapons to Hizballah in southern Lebanon, next door to Israel, which has long complained of Hizballah's military activities there.

"Since 2006, there has been a massive flow of illegal weapons to Hizballah, mostly smuggled in by Iran," Haley said at the UN in New York on August 25.

"They openly threaten Israel. Hizballah is a terrorist organization that is very destabilizing to the region."

Iran and Hizballah had no immediate comment on the charges.

But Beary said this week that his force had found no evidence of weapons being illegally moved into the area.

Haley said Hizballah had been boasting about its weapons cache and Beary "seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hizballah is doing."

She said his statement "shows that we need to have changes" in the mission.

"It's time the Security Council puts teeth in the [peacekeeping] operation," she said. "We don't need to be giving terrorists a pass."

Russia and France are advocating no change in the peacekeeping mandate, UN diplomats said.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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