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Cyprus says UN to decide on Iran suspect cargo

Cyprus will let the United Nations decide whether a ship with a suspect cargo on board infringes resolutions on Iran banning weapon exports, officials said.

world Updated: Feb 04, 2009 15:55 IST

Cyprus will let the United Nations decide whether a ship with a suspect cargo on board infringes resolutions on Iran banning weapon exports, officials said on Wednesday.

The Cyprus-flagged Monchegorsk has been docked off the Mediterranean island for almost a week as authorities check its cargo. The United States, which earlier boarded the ship in the Red Sea, said its navy found weapons on board which it could not confiscate for legal reasons.

Cyprus filed a report to a United Nations sanctions committee on Tuesday and would await a verdict before taking further action, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said.

He declined to specify what the Cypriot report said, saying it was confidential.

"There is an issue because of the origin of the cargo, and there should be an assessment on whether the specific cargo falls within the prohibitions of the (Security Council) resolutions. That is where we are expecting guidance from the United Nations," Kyprianou told reporters.

He said the vessel, anchored off the southern port of Limassol from Jan 29, would remain there until a definitive decision is taken.

The Monchegorsk had been sailing from Iran to Syria. A western diplomatic source said U.S. navy inspections had found arms-related material including propellant and other casings for artillery and tank rounds, as well as shell casings.

Cyprus, which has friendly relations with Arab states as well as Israel, has refused to give details on inquiries. But Kyprianou said: "Almost everything written and published about this issue is wrong."

Israeli media had reported the vessel was suspected of carrying weapons to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon or Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and that its foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, had asked Cyprus to confiscate the cargo.

"I don't want to go into any detail, but no government has told Cyprus what to do," Kyprianou said.

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