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Israeli weapons sold to iran

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Last update - 02:54 29/08/2002
Germany seizes Israeli military equipment on way to Iran

By Amnon Barzilai and Yossi Melman, Ha'aretz Correspondents, Ha'aretz Service and Agencies

German customs officials impounded a private Israeli ship carrying military equipment thought to be headed for Iran, the Defense Minstry said Wednesday.

A statement released by the ministry said the cargo included some 3,000 Israeli-made rubber treads for armored personnel carriers. It was authorised for export on the premise that the cargo was headed for Thailand, the statement said.

"The shipment sent by a private company from Israel to Germany was seized by the German customs authorities," the statement said, adding that the firm received permission to export the items based on a declaration that its final destination was Thailand.

"The Defense Ministry prohibits the sale of weapons and spare part of military equipment of any kind to Iran," the statement said.

The ship, with a crew made up of Israelis and foreigners, had been docking for several days at the Hamburg port.

Channel Two Television quoted the German authorities as saying that a German company bought the equipment and that it intended to ship the cargo to Iran. It is unclear whether the Israeli company, P.A.D., ownned by Avihai Weinstein, knew that the equipment would end up in Iran.

Weinstein is related to Eli Cohen, who three years ago was suspected of trying to sell tank engines to Iran, Channel One's news program reported Wednesday. Cohen was never indicted, but the Defense Ministry suspended contacts with his company and cancelled Cohen's permit to export military equipment.

Since Ayatollah Humeini set up the Islamic republic, which hastened to sever ties with Israel, the covert relations between the two states, especially in arms sales, never really stopped. These ties were maintained despite the international sanctions imposed on Iran, despite the ban on selling it weapons, and despite the rift they caused more than once in the relations with the United States.

During the trial of businessman Nahum Manbar, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for selling to Iran chemicals and providing it with know-how and equipment to set up plants for chemical warfare, the judges rejected his claim that he was not alone in trading with Iran, and that Israeli companies were also selling arms to the Islamic republic.

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