WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran has recalled its ambassador to Cyprus for consultations after an Iranian national was recently extradited from the island to the United States on suspicion of violating U.N. arms sanctions, Cyprus’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
“Only today ... I received word from Nicosia that Iran has decided to recall its ambassador there for consultations. Why? Because an Iranian citizen was apprehended for trying to buy, to contravene the arms embargo against Iran,” Ioannis Kasoulides told a conference in Washington.
A diplomatic source in Nicosia said the Iranian was ordered to be extradited to the United States by a court “after exhaustion of all domestic legal remedies in Cyprus” about two weeks ago.
The source added that the nature of the alleged offence was “to buy and have delivered in Iran goods and material falling under the sanctions regime,” but would not go into any more detail.
Kasoulides, speaking to an audience at the Brookings Institution, later told Reuters Iran had attempted to apply political pressure on Nicosia to avert extradition. “In Cyprus in principle we follow the decision of the court.”
Cyprus, perched on the edge of the volatile Middle East, saw its worst peace-time disaster two years ago when a cargo of confiscated Iranian arms destined for Syria exploded, destroying its largest power station.
Reporting By Anna Yukhananov, writing by Michele Kambas; editing by Mike Collett-White