Cyprus awaits UN nod on ship

A ship believed to be loaded with arms destined for Gaza will not be returned to Iran, Cyprus government authorities said on Saturday, without confirming the contents of the vessel’s cargo. Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias said that authorities would decide what to do with the cargo of the Cyprus-flagged, Russian-owned Monchegorsk once they had finished searching the ship, but he did not determine how long this would take. Nicosia will not return the shipment to Iran, the president’s adviser, George Iacovou, was quoted as saying on Saturday by a state-run radio station. Christofias was cited as saying that confiscation of the cargo was another option. Christofias said Cyprus had received clear guidance from the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee on whether the cargo breached sanctions barring Iran from sending arms abroad, but he refused to give any details. Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said that Nicosia was also consulting with the UN Security Council on the issue and «will do what it must do and will decide very soon,» Stefanou said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials in Nicosia told Agence France-Presse that the cargo of the Cyprus-flagged Monchegorsk was in violation of Security Council resolutions against Iran. The official added: «Cyprus must continue the search to find new evidence, as only 30 of the 60 containers have been searched and this will be done and a decision made in the next couple of days.» The vessel, currently anchored off the port of Limassol, reached Cyprus on January 29 and a search was undertaken following Israeli and US reports that the ship was carrying weapons destined for Gaza’s Hamas rulers from Iran.

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