Tuesday, October 13, 2009
American soldiers stationed in the Gulf of Suez discovered containers of ammunition aboard a German-owned cargo ship allegedly transporting the arms from Iran to Syria, the influential German daily newspaper Der Spiegel reported on Monday. The newspaper quoted a German diplomat as saying that the incident represents "an embarrassing affair" for Berlin, the consequences of which could be troublesome for trans-Atlantic relations. The ammunition, which comprised 7.62 millimeter bullets suitable for Kalashnikov rifles, is believed to have been intended for either the Syrian army or Hezbollah. U.S. soldiers boarded the freighter Hansa India, which is registered to a Hamburg-based shipping company known as Leonhardt & Blumberg, according to Der Spiegel.American officials said the arms shipment is a violation of UN Security Resolution 1747 which forbids all weapons shipments into and out of Iran, the newspaper reported. Iran has been a supplier of weapons and materiel to Syria and Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Lebanon-based group which fought a war with Israel in 2006. According to Der Spiegel, the freighter company said the ship, which was intercepted by two U.S. warships in the Gulf of Suez, had been under charter to Iran's state-owned shipping company. After the German government intervened in the matter, the Americans permitted the ship to dock at Malta, where the containers holding the ammunition were secured, according to Der Spiegel.