Francop incident problematic -- scholar

Nov. 13, 2009 at 1:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The Israeli seizure of Iranian arms bound for Hezbollah indicates international efforts aimed at controlling weapons shipments are ineffective, scholars say.

Israel seized the Francop vessel that it claims was bound for militants in the Hezbollah organization. Israeli military evidence suggests the cargo contained thousands of rockets and millions of artillery rounds.

U.S. congressional reports suggested recently that Iran might be funneling North Korean weapons to its regional proxies. The incident involving the Francop, writes The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Jeffrey White, highlights lingering problems with Iran's compliance with its international obligations.

He claims cargo on the Francop was labeled with markings showing a clear link to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and illustrates clear weaknesses in the effort to prevent arms from reaching Hezbollah.

White, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, says more could be done to examine cargo and blames shipping and port authorities for not doing enough to focus on smuggling activities.

"Such measures are essential, even if they do not eliminate the problem," he writes. "Hezbollah's military buildup will likely continue largely unabated, however, with all this implies for stability in the region."

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