Iran: ‘No legal basis’ for stopping ship

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Iran says there was "no legal basis" for the seizure of arms from a Cypriot-flagged Iranian ship headed for Syria.

In a letter this week to the United Nations Security Council, Iranian U.N. ambassador Mohammad Khazaee wrote that "despite some politically motivated allegations made by certain media and others about the cargo of the M/V Monchegorsk vessel, we wish to stress that the consignment of the said ship falls within the framework of normal trade transactions, and any allegations to the contrary are baseless," according to the Jerusalem Post.

"Accordingly, measures that have been taken in intercepting the ship’s cargo and storing the said vessel’s shipment have no legal basis, and the right to seek compensation through appropriate mechanisms remains reserved in this regard," the letter stated.

Last month, a U.N. committee demanded an explanation from Iran and Syria about their involvement with the ship. The ship’s cargo was unloaded in Cyprus in February, and authorities there said the boat had more than 90 containers of "raw material that could be used in the manufacture of munitions," the Post reproted.

Earlier, the ship had been boarded by U.S. Navy personnel, apparently as part of a stepped-up effort to keep Iranian arms from illegally reaching terrorists in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The cargo is currently at a Cypriot naval base.

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