Letters from Ambassador Shalev to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and from Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar to the High Commissioner for Human Rights

H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General
United Nations
Room S3800
New York, N.Y. 10017

5 November 2009

Excellency,

I would like to take this opportunity to file a grave complaint of UN Security Council resolutions under chapter VII of the charter of the United Nations, specifically Security Council resolution 1747 as well as other Security Council resolutions. These grave violations constitute a threat to peace and security, as well as non-compliance with international legal obligations.

On 4 November 2009, a cargo vessel, Francop, was sailing under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda en route to Syria via the intended port of Beirut, as well as other ports. The ship’s cargo contained, inter alia, 36 containers of hundreds of tons of a wide range of weaponry, including rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and small arms and light weapons (SALW). The weapons – concealed, wrapped, and declared as civilian cargo in the ship’s manifest, were hidden among hundreds of other containers aboard the ship that originated from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Operative paragraph 5 of Security Council Resolution 1747 explicitly prohibits Iran from supplying, selling or transferring, directly or indirectly, any arms or related material. Therefore, the aforementioned shipment from Iran to Syria, or to any other country or entity, in particular to any terrorist entity, constitutes a severe violation of this and other resolutions.

The intended route of the Francop – coupled with the types of weaponry found on board – raise serious concerns that this incident also constitutes a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and 1373.

The aforementioned breach is only the latest in a series of recent violations by Iran documented and examined by the 1737 Sanctions Committee, including the transfer of weapons aboard the Monchegorsk (January 2009) and the Hansa India (October 2009), both of which were carrying weapons en route from Iran to Syria. These events are part of a pattern of continued Iranian and Syrian’s grave breaches of Security Council resolutions and non-compliance with their international obligations.

Iran’s national shipping company (IRISL), referenced in UN Security Council Resolution 1803 – has been repeatedly found to be involved in transporting weapons and other banned items in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Moreover, such defiance constitutes a violation of international maritime commerce as it represents a serious threat to professional shipping crews carrying out their duties in good faith. As such, flag states, shipping and transporting companies, as well as crew members, are unknowingly and unwillingly exploited by Iran’s repeated transgressions.

Excellency,

Israel therefore requests the Security Council to take the appropriate action in view of these constant violations and to further investigate this complaint. My government remains willing to provide additional information regarding the contents of the cargo of the Francop.

I should be grateful if you would have this letter distributed as an official document of the Security Council. An identical letter has been sent to H.E. Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, President of the Security Council.

Attached to the electronic version of this letter of complaint, please find a video  showing the initial discovery of the weapons aboard the Francop.

Allow me, Excellency, to renew to you the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours truly,  

Gabriela Shalev
Ambassador
Permanent Representative

* * *

Mrs. Navanethem Pillay
High Commissioner for Human Rights
OHCHR
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneve 10

9 November 2009

Dear Madame High Commissioner,

As you may be aware, approximately 500 tons of weapons, rockets and missiles were discovered upon the cargo vessel "Francop" under the Antiguan flag on 3 November 2009.  The Israel Navy Force intercepted the ship and directed it to the Ashdod port.

A total of 36 shipping containers with 500 tons of weaponry were found upon the ship; the exact contents of which remain to be determined by the Israel Naval and Engineering Corps forces. The search that procured the weaponry was conducted in accordance with international law, the search was agreed upon by the Captain of the vessel, and such search was initiated without any use of force.

Further, the weapons cache on the boat originated from Iran with an end destination of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.  These weapons were to be used against the State of Israel and its citizens.  Such action is in stark violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1747 and 1701 which strictly forbid Iran from dealing in any form of weapons. This well-known Iranian technique of hiding weapon caches amongst cargo and flying under another country’s flag is far from being rare.  

Among the munitions found in the smuggled arms shipment were Iranian-made M48 120mm Mortar bombs equipped with AZ111A2 fuses manufactured this year by "Iran Ammunition Industries Group," and a total of about 9,000 mortar bombs of different types were seized, along with about 2,000 Katyusha artillery rockets, 3,000 recoilless gun shells, 20,000 grenades and over a half million rounds of small arms ammunition.

Please also take note the vessel was released after the necessary inspections.  

You will find further video footage and photographs of the interception of the vessel on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Please accept, Madame High Commissioner, the continued assurances of my highest consideration.

Aharon Leshno Yaar
Ambassador
Permanent Representative