Middle East

Israel attacks 'hypocrisy' of international community on Iran

Israeli naval officers stand next to dozens of rockets Image copyright AP
Image caption Israeli naval officers stand next to dozens of rockets seized from a cargo ship in the Red Sea last week

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the international community of "hypocrisy" over Iran.

Mr Netanyahu spoke as the Israeli military unveiled what it alleged was a cache of Syrian-made weapons being sent by Iran to militants in the Gaza Strip.

He criticised EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who visited Tehran at the weekend, for her "smiles and handshakes" with Iran's leaders.

Iran has dismissed as "failed lies" the accusation it was behind the shipment.

A spokesman for Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamist movement that governs Gaza, has meanwhile said it is all a "silly joke".

'Denying the facts'

Israel's navy seized a Panamanian-flagged vessel, the Klos-C, in the Red Sea off Sudan last Wednesday, and said it was carrying dozens of M-302 rockets, which have a range of 150km to 200km (93-124 miles).

The weapons had been tracked for several months as they were flown from Damascus to Tehran and then taken to a port in southern Iran, it alleged. From there, it added, they were loaded on to the Klos-C, which sailed to Iraq, where containers of cement were added.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Netanyahu compared the silence over Iran to the criticism Israel gets over its settlement construction

On Monday, Mr Netanyahu said the world's apparent decision to downplay the discovery in favour of seeking improved relations with Iran was "evidence of the era of hypocrisy in which we are living".

"The ship was organised by Iran, dispatched by Iran, financed by Iran. The missiles were loaded by Iran, in Iran," he added.

"Now, as usual, Iran denies these facts. In fact its foreign minister calls these facts "failed lies". But it's Iran who's lying."

The Israeli leader said he had heard only a handful of condemnations of this "murderous delivery", which was intercepted shortly before Baroness Ashton travelled to Tehran.

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Media captionBaroness Ashton is taking "nothing for granted" on a nuclear deal with Iran

"By comparison," he said, "if we build a balcony in a neighbourhood of Jerusalem, we hear a chorus of vociferous condemnation of the state of Israel from the international community."

Mr Netanyahu has long claimed that the West is being fooled by Iran's diplomatic overtures following the election last August of President Hassan Rouhani, who was presented as a moderate.

World powers are currently engaged in talks with Iran in a bid to convince Tehran to scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Speaking after meeting with Baroness Ashton in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a nuclear deal could come in the next four months.

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