Reports of a ship seized in the UAE with North Korean Weapons heading for Iran are nothing but a Zionist conspiracy, Iran says.
A ship reportedly seized a few weeks ago by the United Arab Emirates was shuttling weapons from North Korea to Iran, a diplomatic source at the United Nations said on Friday.
But Iran is rejecting these reports as a "childish game" orchestrated by Israel, and says the Western media is allowing itself to be influenced by what it calls the Zionist lobby.
The weapons found on board were reportedly conventional, but the reports are raising concerns about increasing defense ties between two states seeking nuclear power in defiance of international restrictions.
Dr. Ali Ansari, director of the Institute for Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University, said the cooperation between Iran and North Korea goes back to the 1990s.
"A lot of it has to do with the exchange of information on missile technology, and they certainly share an ideological animosity towards the West, so they collaborate on that level," Ansari told The Media Line.
But he said there was nothing to confirm allegations of nuclear collaboration between the two countries.
Iran dismissed the reports of the seized weapons ship as an attempt to undermine its diplomatic relations with its neighboring countries.
"At a time when the Islamic Republic is cooperating in the best way with the International Atomic Energy Agency, it’s a shame that some Western media outlets are being influenced by the Zionist lobby in publishing fabricated news items, in order to damage relations between different states," an Iranian diplomatic official told the Iranian Mehr news agency.
Iran says the aim of the shipment allegations are to alter the outcome of an IAEA report on its nuclear program.
The Iranian official added that "it would be better if we did not waste our valuable time in responding to these kinds of childish games that the Zionists are hiding behind."
The unnamed diplomatic source said the UAE seized the ship carrying North Korean Weapons destined for Iran, in violation of United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang, agencies reported.
The report comes after several recent provocations by North Korea, including missile and nuclear tests.
The U.N. adopted Resolution 1874 follows North Korea’s nuclear tests on May 25.
The resolution tightened existing sanctions by blocking funding for nuclear, missile and proliferation activities through targeted blocks on goods, people and entities. It also widened the ban on arms imports-exports, and called on member states to inspect and destroy all banned cargo to and from North Korea if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a violation.
UAE officials reportedly informed the U.N. sanctions committee of the seizure, but the committee has not issued a report on the incident.
Meanwhile, Iran is also under Western pressure to be more cooperative with its nuclear program.
Western powers suspect Iran is using its nuclear program to covertly manufacture nuclear weapons.
Iran, however, denies these accusations, claiming its nuclear program is for the purposes of energy production and is upholding its right to possess nuclear technology.
The prospect of a nuclear Iran is a source of concern not just for Western countries but also for neighboring Sunni countries such as the UAE, for whom a nuclear armed Shia power might prove a threat.
It should also be noted that Iran and the UAE have a territorial dispute over three islands – Abu Mousa, the Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb, over which both countries claim sovereignty.