Ya’alon to Hagel: Iran Funding and Arming Terror Groups

March 8, 2014  

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday congratulated Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for the successful operation to capture the Klos C ship, which Israel intercepted in the Red Sea and which was caught with a weapons shipment from Iran to Gaza.

According to a statement from the Defense Department, Hagel and received a briefing from Ya’alon on Israel’s operation in the Red Sea.

In a statement summarizing the phone call, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel congratulated Ya’alon on the operation’s success and reiterated the U.S. commitment to holding Iran accountable for its destabilizing activities in the region, “even as we continue efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy.”

“Secretary Hagel made clear that illicit actions by Iran are unacceptable to the international community and in gross violation of Iran’s UN Security Council obligations,” the statement said.

Kirby further added that the Defense Department and the Israeli Defense Ministry have been in consistent touch on Israel’s interdiction operation, coordinating extensively through military and intelligence channels.

“The secretary and the minister pledged to continue this close consultation as Israel completes its final inspection of the vessel,” he said, “and reaffirmed the strength of the U.S.-Israel defense relationship.”

The Israeli Defense Ministry said that Ya’alon told Hagel that the interception of the ship “shows again Iran’s true intentions – they train, fund and arm terrorist groups.”

The Klos C ship, which flew a Panamanian flag, carried dozens of long-range B-302 missiles. The weapons, made in Syria under Iran’s directives, were being taken to Sudan, where they would be then taken to the Sinai Peninsula and smuggled to Gaza through the underground tunnels.

Both Iran and Hamas have denied any connection to the Klos C. In fact, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, suggested on Thursday that there was a connection between the weapons ship and the AIPAC policy conference that was held in Washington this week.

“An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. “Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti-Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, unfazed by Iran’s denials, said on Thursday,” Now the government of Iran is saying it’s all lies That ship will get to Eilat in a few days, and we shall see who is lying, and we shall expose what Iran is really doing.”

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