Hagel congratulates Israel on Iranian arms capture

US defense secretary speaks to Israeli counterpart, reaffirms commitment to stopping destabilizing actions by Tehran

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (photo credit: AP/Wong Maye-E/File)
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (photo credit: AP/Wong Maye-E/File)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel congratulated Israeli officials on the successful capture of an Iranian weapons shipment headed to the Gaza Strip, the Pentagon said on Friday.

In a phone call Thursday, Hagel spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Y’aalon and commended Israel’s operation early Wednesday morning to take control of the Klos-C in the Red Sea.

According to Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, Hagel stressed the US was committed to preventing Iran from engaging in activities that would destabilize 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,” Kirby said.

Israel and the US had cooperated and shared intelligence ahead of the Israeli operation. Kirby said such close contact would continue.

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

Israeli forces intercepted the ship as it headed to a Sudanese port in an early morning raid Wednesday. They said the ship was laden with M-302 long-range missiles to be smuggled into Gaza via Egypt.

The missiles, which Israel said originated in Iran, would allow rockets fired from Gaza to reach anywhere in Israel

The Klos-C was being towed to Eilat by the Israeli navy and was expected to reach the Red Sea port on Saturday.

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