German ship stopped carrying Iranian arms to Syria: report

Germany said Saturday it was investigating the possible breaking of an arms embargo after a report claiming that a German ship had been carrying Iranian weapons bound for Syria.

The news weekly Der Spiegel reported Saturday on its website that a German shipping company stopped one of its vessels on the high seas after a tip-off from opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The Atlantic Cruiser, owned by Emden-based Bockstiegel but leased by a Ukrainian firm called White Whale Shipping, had loaded the arms in Djibouti, where they had been brought by an Iranian vessel, according to the weekly's report.

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It said the Atlantic Cruiser was halted 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the Syrian port of Tartus on Friday.

"We had been told that the cargo contained pumps and other machinery of that sort," the magazine quoted Torsten Lueddeke of freight handlers CEG Bulk Chartering as saying.

Iran is under a UN arms embargo imposed in 2007 because of its nuclear activities while Western countries have declared a similar embargo against Iranian ally Syria since its bloody crackdown on dissent began over a year ago.

It was not clear what had happened to the Atlantic Cruiser. At one stage it was headed for the Turkish port of Iskunderun, Der Spiegel said.

"The German government is examining every indication of possible embargo violations," an economy ministry spokeswoman said.

"As far as is currently known this concerns a ship with a German owner," the spokeswoman said. "It was leased to a company which registered the ship under the flag of a third country."

CEG Bulk Chartering Saturday referred questions to Bockstiegel, which could not be reached for comment.

© 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 14, 2012