Egypt refutes Washington Post claims 2016 N.Korean arms shipment was bound for its military

Ahram Online , Tuesday 3 Oct 2017

FM spox
Egypt FM Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid (Photo: Ahram)

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid has denied a report by the Washington Post claiming that a shipment of weapons from North Korea seized by Egyptian authorities in 2016 was in fact destined for the Egyptian military.

The US newspaper reported that the Egyptian military was the actual undisclosed buyer of $23 million worth of rocket-propelled grenades seized by the Egyptian customs authority in August 2016 in Egyptian national waters after a receiving a tip from US intelligence.

The newspaper cited "US officials and Western diplomats familiar with the findings" as anonymous sources.

In a detailed statement sent to AFP on Monday, Abu Zeid "entirely dismissed" the claim that Egypt was the final destination for the shipment.

In August 2016, the United States informed Egyptian authorities that the vessel Jie Shun, which was sailing under the Cambodian flag, was headed toward the Suez Canal.

The ship, according to the Post, was being run by a North Korean crew and had "unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps."

The same anonymous sources told the Washington Post that a "UN investigation" found that Egypt was the original buyer of the shipment.

Abu Zeid, however, insists that "the shipment that was confiscated was not destined for Egypt."

"Egyptian authorities indeed intercepted a ship flying the Cambodian flag before it entered the southern entrance of the Suez Canal, following information that it was carrying anti-tank rockets from North Korea in violation of [UN Security Council] sanctions," Abu Zeid said.

"Egyptian authorities confiscated and destroyed the shipment in the presence of a team of experts from the 1718 committee overseeing the UNSC sanctions on North Korea," Abu-Zeid told AFP.

Abu Zeid added that "the head of the UNSC North Korea sanctions committee has lauded Egypt's efforts" in respecting the sanctions on North Korea.

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