On the night between November 3-4, 2009, the Israel Navy seized the vessel Francop, which was sailing under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda and destined for Syria with a planned stopover in Beirut. From an inspection carried out onboard, with the agreement of the relevant authorities, several containers were found to be carrying weapons of Iranian origin. A request was made for the vessel to sail to Ashdod port for further inspection. The captain of the ship agreed to this request.
The Francop, owned by the Cypriot shipping company UFS, was carrying containers clearly marked IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines), as can be seen in photos of the seized ship in Ashdod port. In the past few months, other ships carrying IRISL cargo, such as the Russian vessel Monchegorsk and the German ship Hansa India, were apprehended while smuggling weapons.
The Francop cargo ship, intercepted by the Israel Navy. Inspection of its
containers, including many marked IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping
Lines) revealed munitions and rockets concealed behind ordinary cargo
(Photos: IDF Spokesperson)
UN Security Council Resolution 1747 prohibits weapons export from Iran: "Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related material, and all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran."
The presence of Iranian weapons in the on the Francop containers represents, therefore, yet another severe violation of this resolution. Iran continues to systematically ignore UN Security Council resolutions by supplying weapons to terror organizations. Moreover, this incident proves once again that any entity that conducts business, directly or indirectly with the Iranian regime or with the Iranian shipping company IRISL, runs the risk of violating UN Security Council resolutions.
Under the guise of legitimate commerce, and by using ships, flags and ports of blameless countries, Iran is turning the Mediterranean into a base for its nefarious activities, with the aim of destabilizing regional security. Countries should take preventive measures in order to protect themselves and their companies, as mentioned in UNSC resolutions. A good example of such action is the decision by the British government last month prohibiting private-sector companies from trading with IRISL, invoking its counterterrorism legislation.
Iran is challenging the authority of the UN Security Council, and is mocking the international community and its institutions. Iran represents a strategic threat to world peace and stability. The international community must act resolutely against Iran’s indefatigable efforts to achieve a military nuclear capability, to support terror organizations and suppress its own population. The recent Hamas test-flight of a rocket with an extended range of 60 km. serves as confirmation of the danger posed by Iran to stability in the Middle East.
As it appears that the weapons were destined for terrorist organizations in Lebanon, this is also a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah is continuing unmolested, including the intent to transfer new and dangerous weapon types.