Cyprus unloads 'Gaza arms' ship
Cyprus has begun to unload a detained ship allegedly carrying
weapons-related material, which the government says was in "clear"
breach of UN sanctions.
The government said the unidentified cargo would be stored on the island.
The containers were being transported to a naval base along the coast under
heavy police guard, state radio said.
Israel says the ship, the Monchegorsk, was carrying Iranian arms
destined for the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, in Gaza. Iran
denies the accusation.
Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghasghavi stated on Wednesday: "The ship was
not taking arms and weapons [to Gaza]."
Cypriot authorities had inquired about the ship's cargo
and "if it was carrying weapons things would have been clear", he
The Monchegorsk has been anchored off the southern port of Limassol
since 29 January, when it was detained reportedly at the request of the
On Friday, the government said in a statement that it
had decided to unload the Cypriot-flagged vessel's cargo and "keep it
“ The Republic of Cyprus has decided to unload the material on the ship
Monchegorsk and keep it on Cyprus ”
Cypriot government statement
"The Republic of Cyprus has already informed the UN Security Council Sanctions
Committee of its decision," it added.
"Unloading the cargo does not involve any danger."
Later, Defence Minister Costas Papacostas told the Associated Press:
"There are no weapons. There is material that could be used in the
manufacture of munitions."
On Tuesday, Cypriot Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou
said the UN committee had ruled that the Monchegorsk was in "clear"
breach of UN sanctions, but he did not specify what had been found on
board or name the cargo's destination.
A spokesman for Japan's UN mission, the Security
Council chair this month, said the committee had been in contact with
the Cypriot government, but would not confirm whether the ship had
breached any UN sanctions.
Israel has long accused Iran of arming militants in
Gaza, a claim Tehran denies even though it says it offers moral support
In December, Israel launched a 22-day offensive against
Hamas in Gaza, attempting to end rocket attacks by militants on its
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/02/13 18:02:01 GMT
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