Hezbollah accused of stocking up ammonium nitrate and weapons across Europe by US State department
US State Department has accused Hezbollah of stockpiling caches of weapons and ammonium nitrate across Europe. The department has alleged that the stocks are planned to be used for use in explosives to carry on attacks in future ordered by Iran. US state department’s counter-terrorism coordinator Nathan Sales has made the allegations and has urged the European nations to take a tougher stand against Iran backed Lebanese Shia political movement and militia.
Six weeks before the fresh allegations against Hezbollah, a devastating explosion in Beirut’s port had led to a catastrophe in the capital city of Lebanon, the reason of which was tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at port. Currently an investigation is ongoing into the blast and how the ammonium nitrate, a chemical which is used both as fertilizer and in making explosives, came to be lying at part for six years unattended. Hezbollah is known to be running the Beirut port, so the link probability comes in high percentage.
In a video briefing at American Jewish Committee, Nathan Sales said, “I can reveal that such caches have been moved through Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. I can also reveal that significant ammonium nitrate caches have been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece and Italy. We have reason to believe that this activity is still under way. As of 2018, ammonium nitrate caches were still suspected within Europe, possibly in Greece, Italy and Spain.”
The European Union has labelled military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist group. However, the political wing hasn’t been designated as terrorist group due to unanimity lack on issue among European leaders. UK and Germany had named the complete organization terrorist early in the year. US has been trying to persuade rest of the Europe to follow the same course.
Sales commented, “Hezbollah represents a clear and present danger to the US today. Hezbollah represents a clear and present danger to Europe today.” He continued, “The bottom line is that the EU’s approach since 2013 simply hasn’t worked.
The limited designation of Hezbollah’s so called military wing hasn’t dissuaded the group from preparing for terrorist attacks across the continent. Hezbollah continues to see Europe as a vital platform for its operational, logistical, and fundraising activities. And it will continue to do so until Europe takes decisive action, as the UK and Germany have both done.”
The allegations against Hezbollah, and in turn Tehran which supports the group, has come amid rising tensions between US and Iran after Donald Trump withdrew US from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and imposed strict financial and economic embargo. On Thursday United States went ahead with imposing fresh sanctions on a senior Hezbollah official and two Lebanon-based firms who are accused of having links to the Tehran-backed group, Hezbollah.