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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Syria demanding Iranian weapons ship

Israel Radio reports that the government of Cyprus has notified the governments of England, Germany and France that the government of Syria is pressuring Cyprus to turn over the Iranian weapons ship that was impounded last month in Limassol and especially its contents: weapons that Iran had sent to Hamas. The ship was flying a Cypriot flag and was stopped at the request of the United States, Israel and the European Union.
Two diplomats recently told The Associated Press that Syria, described by the U.S. as the port of destination for the vessel, is pressuring Cyprus over what it should do with the ship's cargo.

It was unclear how much pressure and what kind the Syrians were exerting.

Syrian Justice Minister Mohammed al-Ghufari visited Cyprus late last month on a little-publicized visit weeks after the U.S. Navy boarded the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk off the island nation and found what Washington suspects were weapons from Iran meant for Hamas militants in Gaza.

The U.S. military said it could not legally detain the ship, which it said was headed for Syria.

The vessel continued on to Port Said, Egypt, and then on Jan. 29 docked in Cyprus, where its cargo - described by Cypriot officials as material that could be used to manufacture munitions - was offloaded. The Cypriot government says the ship breached a U.N. ban on Iranian arms exports.


A government official from a country in the region told the AP that Ghufari's delegation "was instructed to reach secret agreements with Cyprus" that would allow the Syrians to receive at least part of the cargo at the Syrian port of Latakia. Two Cypriot government employees familiar with Ghufari's visit could not confirm that, saying the subject was not broached at least in formal meetings the Syrian official had with his Cypriot hosts.

But one of the European diplomats said the Cypriots made it known to the European powers, Britain, France and Germany, that they feel under pressure from the Syrians over the incident. And both told the AP that Cyprus in turn is being urged by European Union governments to heed guidance from the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee set up in 2006 to oversee a Security Council embargo on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and an export ban on arms and related material.

All of the officials spoke on the issue only on condition of anonymity because their information was confidential.

Syrian officials have been unreachable for comment in recent days.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union. Britain has offered to help Cyrpus dispose of the cargo, but Cypriot officials don't believe that's appropriate to discuss yet, since they are still investigating.

At its closest point, Cyprus is only 60 miles from Syria.


At 10:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Iranian Weapon ship is always a sensitive issue when seen from the view of
Any way, thanks for the post and thanks for sharing your knowledge on blog.


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