The Mystery of Cyprus registered "Monchegorsk" - Iran / Syrian arms supplies / embargo / UN and Bill Rammell doesn't want to know about Israeli arms
Fun loving, conference hopping, Bill Rammell called to invite us to a London conference on prevention of arms smuggling to armed groups in Gaza, tommorrow 13th March run by his FCO chums (from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the USA.) at Lancaster House on Friday 13th March.
This, he reminds us is a follow up to the 5th February Copenhagen conference, when " participants agreed to explore and develop effective measures together with regional partners, such as enhancing information sharing, strengthening diplomatic co-operation, and reviewing international authorities and mechanisms."
In is inimitable style he readout what he is going to say ...." This is part and parcel of the elements needed to underpin a durable and sustainable ceasefire. We are also working hard on the other elements needed, including the re-opening of the crossings into Gaza for all legitimate traffic, not only for humanitarian aid. Together with the £50m we pledged at the Sharm el-Sheikh conference on reconstruction and our ongoing efforts to ensure humanitarian access, this demonstrates the UK's strong commitment to the region."
Mystery ship Monchegorsk at Limassol
Which coincides with the curious case of the mystery ship Monchegorsk registered in Cyprus which now lies off Limassol having been unloaded in mid February.
The Odyssey of this ship allegedly lies in Iran and came to light in February. On Tuesday Japan's U.N. Ambassador Yukio Takasu, chairman of the Iran sanctions committee, told the U.N. Security Council in an open discussion February 3rd 2009 the Committee received a letter from a member state (Cyprus) seeking guidance with respect to its inspections of cargo on a vessel carrying its flag that was found to be carrying arms related material and had been leased by an Iranian government shipping company .Guradian Reuters
A U.S. official is quoted in the Wall Street Journal relating that the incident occurred Jan. 19th and 20th, when the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk, which started it's journey in Iran, claimd to be bound for Syria, was boarded in the Red Sea by the USS San Antonio. The ship was ordered to port in Cyprus, where authorities there found 1,980 wooden cases of powder for 130mm guns and 1,320 cases of powder and powder pellets for 125mm guns, according to a Cypriot government report.
"The Committee responded to this letter on 6 February (asking for a response within 10 days ) stating that the transfer of the material in question constituted a violation of paragraph five of resolution 1747 (2007)", which prohibits export of weapons from Iran.
The report refers to a second letter from Cyprus, dated February 12, which gave more details about the issue. A reply was given to that letter on February 24.the shipment of conventional weaponry constituted a "violation" of Security Council resolution 1737, passed in 2006 to put pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program. According to the letters published Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line, that the cargo was loaded in Bandar Abbas, Iran, and that it was to be unloaded in Lataki, Syria.
The Cypriot government unloaded the vessel and has stored the arms in Government / Army warehouses. Three of the 98 containers onboard were too heavy to move and still haven't been searched.
Whilst Washington and Tel Aviv are worried Washington because the U.S. and Israel have long maintained that Iran and Syria supply Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza with armaments they have been remarkably low key in handling the shipment in public.
Hence very little Press coverage until Yukio Takasu, chairman of the Iran sanctions committee decided to go public on Tuesday.
Very little reaction as well - The British have offered Cyprus to help dispose of the cargo when the time comes and the French U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert expressed concern because the shipment of “explosives and … arms” violated sanctions imposed after Iran refused to suspend uranium enrichment.
Israeli arms sources
Anyway we explained to Bill that we could help with arms exports to Israel that they used in Gaza - Bunker busting bombs signed off by Condi Rice, standard issue F 16's with all their bits and pieces, Phosphorous anti personnel wapons courtesy of the US. Various bits and pieces from several Uk suppliers.
When we got on to supplying nuclear technology from the UK / France etc ., so that Israel has nuclear weapons - and hasn't signed up for the Nuclear proliferation treaty the line crackledand went dead.
UPDATE : FRIDAY 13th March
1 In interview with Emirate's Al-Khaleej daily Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says that Damascus has re-built the al-Kibar site which Israeli warplanes bombed two years ago.
He did not elaborate what the new construction was at al-Kibar. Some reports talk of a missile site.
2. Two senior U.S. diplomats met top officials in Damascus on Saturday. This is the first fac / face meeting since the Bush administration pulled the U.S. ambassador out of Damascus in 2005 after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
The visitors were named as Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affair and and National Security Council official Daniel Shapiro They first visited visited Beirut, said to be part of an effort to allay long-standing fears that Washington might sacrifice Lebanon to improve Syrian / US relations.
3 Saudi King Abdullah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his ageing and threatened electoraly challenged Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak and Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-ahmad al-Sabah, met in a 4 way Arab summit at Riyadh air base on Wednesday.
The meeting is seen as an attempt to thaw frosty relations between Syria on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and Egypt on the other.