Mottaki: Iran-Nigeria misunderstanding on weapon shipment resolved

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday that Iran-Nigeria misunderstanding on weapon shipment is resolved.

“Some enemies of Iran and Nigeria claimed that the weapon shipment founded in Nigeria was linked to Iran. But it became clear to Nigerian officials that it had had nothing to do with Iran, Also an Iranian national who went to Nigeria as representative of an Iranian private weapon firm which was going to send conventional arms to an African state has been in Nigeria for months and provided officials of the African country with required information.” Mottaki said in a press conference with Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul.

Iranian Foreign Minister explained that the Iranian individual was representative of the private firm which planned to sell conventional defence weapons to a West African country, but the shipment passed from Nigeria and raised doubts by Nigerian officials.

Mottaki also said Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Odein Ajumogobia is to visit Iran soon.

On Friday, Nigeria threatened to report Iran to the UN Security Council if the arms shipment, which included rockets and grenades, violated sanctions over its sensitive nuclear programme.

Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions for pursuing the atomic programme, which the West suspects is masking a drive to build weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Nigeria had backed the latest round of UN sanctions against the Islamic republic on June 9.

Security agents last month intercepted 13 containers discharged from the vessel CMA CGM Everest at the country’s busiest port of Apapa in the economic hub of Lagos.

Shipping firm CMA CGM said the containers had been loaded and sealed in Iran by an Iranian businessman who does not appear on an international list of prohibited traders.

CMA CGM, which is based in France, said the shipment was loaded in Bandar Abbas, a southern port city of Iran, and discharged in Lagos in July.

But sometime last month the shipper sought to have the containers reloaded and sent to Gambia, a tiny West African country wedged inside Senegal, according to the firm.

Nigeria’s intelligence agency said it had been monitoring the shipment, which was disguised as building material, before it arrived in the country.

It also said the shipment’s destination was Nigeria, and “any argument that the cargo came into the country by mistake is false”.

The intended recipient and the clearing agent have been arrested, the agency said.

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