cyprus ship iran arms hamas 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
A ship suspected of carrying arms from Iran to Gaza had no weaponry aboard but carried material for making munitions, Cyprus said Friday.
Cypriot authorities began unloading the cargo Friday. The government said it breached a UN ban on Iranian arms exports.
Defense Minister Costas Papacostas said more than 90 containers loaded with "raw material that could be used in the manufacture of munitions" would be stored at a naval base.
The Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk has anchored off the port of Limassol since it arrived Jan. 29 under suspicion from US officials of ferrying weapons from Iran to Hamas in Gaza.
The US military said it found artillery shells and other arms aboard the ship after stopping it last month in the Red Sea. But it could not legally detain the ship, which continued on to Cyprus.
On Wednesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman denied reports that the ship was carrying Iranian weapons destined for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said that Cypriot authorities had inquired about the ship's cargo but accusations that weapons were on board were baseless.