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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seized Iranian weapons intended for Hezbullah?

Shavua tov - a good week to everyone.

During the night on Friday night, it was reported that on August 15, the United Arab Emirates seized a Bahamian-registered ship that was carrying weapons from North Korea to Iran in violation of UN sanctions.

The United Arab Emirates has seized a cargo ship bound for Iran with a cache of banned rocket-propelled grenades and other arms from North Korea, the first such seizure since sanctions against North Korea were ramped up, diplomats and officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

The seizure earlier this month was carried out in accordance with tough new UN Security Council sanctions meant to derail North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but which also ban the North's sale of any conventional arms.

Diplomats identified the vessel as a Bahamas-flagged cargo vessel, the ANL Australia. The diplomats and officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

"We can confirm that the UAE detained a North Korean vessel containing illicit cargo," a Western diplomat told the AP.

Turkey's deputy UN ambassador, Fazli Corman, who chairs the Security Council's sanctions panel, also confirmed the incident without providing details and said council members are examining the seriousness of it.
Over in Hot Air's Green Room, Cold Warrior questions the timing of certain US diplomatic initiatives with North Korea:
What is not so clear…and this is where the Administration comes in…is that this seizure came on 15 August…and just a few days ago, Governor Richardson of New Mexico played host to North Korean diplomats here in the US as part of the Obama effort to establish better relations with North Korea.

Surely, the Administration would have known about this breach of UN sanctions imposed on both North Korea and Iran before Richardson hosted his guests. Might have even made it into the Presidential Daily Brief [PDB] for 16 August, if the Intelligence Community was doing its job.
I can confirm that the Obama administration knew of the arms ship's seizure when Richardson hosted those North Korean diplomats. Here's why:
The ship's seizure and reported violation of a UN arms embargo was reported by the UAE in a confidential letter two weeks ago to the council's sanctions committee for North Korea, which is comprised of diplomats from all 15 nations on the Security Council, according to diplomats and officials.
There is no way the US did not receive a copy of that letter.

The Financial Times, which first broke the story, adds:
A UN diplomat whose country is represented on the sanctions committee said the UAE reported the ship was carrying 10 containers of weapons and related items, including rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition. He said the consignment had been ordered by Iran’s TSS, a company said to be linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and previously subject to international bans on importing weapons-related items.
From an Israeli perspective, the more interesting question is what they planned to do with the weapons. There are two possibilities. One is to use them against their own population. That makes sense for ammunition, but makes less sense for rocket propelled grenades. Because of that, I believe it's more likely that the weapons were intended for Hezbullah.



At 8:33 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Iran's domestic difficulties haven't prevented them from continuing to arm their terrorist proxies. Lebanon was probably the destination of the just seized weapons.


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