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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
'Iran-bound' cargo returns to Israel
Israeli-made treads for armoured personnel carriers
The cargo had parts for armoured personnel carriers

German customs officials in Hamburg have said a cargo of military equipment on an Israeli ship which was impounded on Wednesday is being returned to Israel.

Iranian soldiers on parade
Iran is one of Israel's most bitter opponents
The ship was seized on suspicion that its cargo was bound for Iran.

The Israeli Defence Ministry had originally issued an export permit for the cargo on the basis that it was destined for Thailand.

The ministry prohibits the sale of military equipment or spare parts for weapons of any kind to Iran, a country which refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist.

It has turned the matter over to the police for investigation.

Embarrassment

The privately owned Israeli ship was carrying rubber parts which are used on caterpillar tracks for tanks and armoured vehicles.

German customs officials seized the ship after they received information that the cargo was bound for Iran.

It was being transferred from one vessel to another in Hamburg, a customs statement said.

And it was decided that the shipment should be stopped and returned to Israel.

It is all a bit of an embarrassment for the Israeli authorities who had been told originally that the cargo's final destination would be Thailand.

The Iranians are equally unimpressed, denying all knowledge of the shipment and rejecting any suggestion of economic links to Israel.

See also:

28 Aug 02 | Middle East
05 Feb 02 | Middle East
07 Feb 01 | Middle East
24 Apr 01 | Middle East
10 Jun 02 | Middle East
22 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
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