By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council will publish a delayed report on breaches of an arms embargo in Sudan's western Darfur despite previous objections from an angry China, U.N. envoys said.
The confidential report, which Reuters saw half a year ago, said Khartoum committed multiple breaches of the embargo and China had done little to ensure its weaponry was not used in Darfur.
"China has lifted its ban on that (report)," a senior Western diplomat said on Wednesday.
It is not illegal to supply weapons to Khartoum, but states are required to have so-called "end-use" guarantees from the Sudanese government that the arms will not end up in Darfur. Many weapons and much ammunition reach Darfur regardless of such guarantees, the experts' report says.
The report describes how markings on most of the 18 types of bullet casings found at scenes of attacks against U.N./African Union peacekeepers indicated they were manufactured in China. But it did not say the Chinese government was necessarily to blame.
China had reacted angrily to the report and refused to allow the Security Council's Sudan sanctions committee to formally pass it to council members so that they could consider taking action, envoys said. It later agreed to allow the council to consider the report but not publish it.
U.N. sanctions committees work on the basis of consensus, which means each member has a virtual veto. As a result of China's decision to block it, the report was withheld from the public for nearly six months.
Such reports normally are published on the website of the Sudan sanctions committee shortly after they reach the council. "Apparently they (China) found it embarrassing," an envoy said, adding that it was unclear why Beijing had altered its stance.
The Chinese delegation had publicly complained about the report, saying it had "serious concerns" about it.
China blocked a similar report by a panel of experts on North Korea sanctions for six months before allowing it to reach council members last year.
The attempt to suppress such reports, diplomats said, was emblematic of China's increasingly self-confident approach to international diplomacy as it seeks to protect states to which it has close ties, like North Korea and Sudan.
The report's expert panel recommended expanding the 2005 arms embargo to include Khartoum, but diplomats say China would most likely use its veto power to block any such move.
The conflict in Darfur flared in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglecting the region. Khartoum fought back, and the United Nations estimates up to 300,000 people died in the ensuing humanitarian crisis. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.
(Editing by Paul Simao)