Iran 'Bought Masses of N.Korean Arms'

      December 04, 2009 08:51

      Iran has imported piles of North Korean-made conventional weapons, the Washington Post reported Thursday, even though both countries are under UN sanctions over their nuclear programs. Weapons also went to two Palestinian militant organizations, the Iran-backed Hezbollah and the Islamist Hamas, the paper said.

      To avoid international pursuit, the North Korean weapons were "shipped halfway around the globe in sealed containers, labeled as oil-drilling supplies, that passed through a succession of freighters and ports," including China, Southeast Asia and the Dubai free trade zone, before reaching Iran, it said.

      One example was a shipment of North Korean weapons aboard the ANL Australia which was confiscated by United Arab Emirates authorities on July 22. According to U.S. and UN officials, the ship carried 2,030 detonators for 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, as well as electric circuitry and solid-fuel propellant for rockets, which Hamas and Hezbollah use when attacking Israel.

      The UAE made no official announcement, but the paper said the shipment of North Korean weapons consisted of 10 cargo containers. They left the North Korean port of Nampo on May 30, five days after the North's second nuclear test on May 25 and before the UN Security Council adopted a fresh resolution sanctioning the North.

      The UNSC adopted Resolution 1874 on June 12, extending the arms embargo on North Korea and authorizing member states to inspect its cargo on land, sea, and air. By that time, the vessel carrying the arms had already arrived in China. The containers were transferred to a Chinese ship in the northern port of Dalian on June 13.

      From there, they were ferried to Shanghai, where they were moved to a third ship, the ANL Australia, a 47,326 ton freighter. They were finally discovered at the port of Khor Fakkan in the UAE. The officials claimed that there were as many as five such smuggling attempts since early this year.

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