A half-dozen countries were involved with Iran and Turkey in covertly ferrying arms to Bosnia, activity that a Clinton administration official said Sunday it ignored because it opposed a United Nations arms embargo.
By 1993, four Islamic countries - Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Brunei and Pakistan - were routing arms or money to buy them through Turkey, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Also, other weapons shipments came from Hungary and Argentina, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified Bosnian government officials.A Clinton administration official acknowledged Sunday that officials did not stop the shipments mainly because the administration opposed a U.N. embargo.
"We didn't enforce it given our opposition to the embargo," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The fact is, U.N. resolutions only require us to abide by the embargo, not to enforce it."
White House national security adviser Anthony Lake has defended the arms flow, saying it was already under way when the administration permitted Iranian arms shipments through Turkey and Croatia in 1994. He has credited the arms operation with helping the Bosnian government survive and paving the way to the 1995 Dayton peace accords.
But Republicans in Congress have criticized the arms operation, saying the Clinton administration deceived lawmakers by approving it. Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., was named chairman Friday of a special House subcommittee on the Iranian arms transaction.
The arms-smuggling operation took shape during the fall of 1992, six months after warfare erupted between the Muslim-run Bosnian government in Sarajevo and rebel Serbs who were being backed by arms and forces from neighboring Serbia following the breakup of Yugoslavia.