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Turkey confiscates weapons aboard Iranian plane bound for Syria.

Turkish officials announced on Tuesday that it had seized weapons and ammunition found on board an Iranian cargo plane bound for Syria, the pan-Arab daily ASHARQ AL AWSAT reported on Wednesday. The crew was arrested and its cargo was seized due to its violation of UN sanctions. The plane later returned to Iran on Tuesday night without the cargo. The plan was forced to land Saturday evening in Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakir for cargo inspections upon the suspicion that the plane was transporting unauthorized military equipment. Turkish authorities suspected nuclear arms were on board the cargo plane Turkey's daily Milliyet reported. Anatolia news agency reported that anti-nuclear, biological and chemical material unit of civilian defense teams took part in the inspection of the plane. Turkish media reported on Wednesday that the plan was carrying light weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket launchers, and mortars

The Iranian Embassy in Turkey denied that its plane was forced to land in Turkey but refused to comment further on the issue. The Iranian news agency Fars quoted Embassy officials as saying that "the landing of the place was previously coordinated" and that it was in line with "normal procedures."

The plane is the second Iranian plane stopped within a week by Turkish authorities. They forced another Syrian-bound Iranian plane to land in Diyarbakir on March 16. The Turkish daily Aksam reported that the planes were forced to land on a request from the United States on suspicion that they carried "nuclear material and weapons". Malaysian authorities recently confiscated materials used to manufacture atomic weapons aboard a Chinese cargo ship headed towards Iran.

A UN Security Council resolution bans the supply, trade or transfer of any arms and related material from Iran to all states. Any transfer and procurement of weapons from Iran is a breach of international obligations under a UN resolution. The Turkish government says it routinely searches Iranian cargo planes flying over Turkey.
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Title Annotation:TURKEY-IRAN-SYRIA
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Mar 23, 2011
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