Russia Today
No UN comment on diversion of Russian tanker

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 4, 2000 -- (Reuters) A U.N. spokesman declined comment on Thursday on the diversion by an international naval patrol of a Russian tanker in the Gulf suspected of carrying Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions.

"The interception regime that has been established in the Gulf was authorized by the Security Council but is not overseen by the council," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told a questioner at his daily news conference.

"It is something that we have no operational control over," he said.

"No comment on our side," Eckhard added, referring questioners to the countries taking part in the United States-led Multinational Interception Force (MIF).

The Russian vessel, the Volgoneft-147, was boarded on Wednesday evening in international waters near the mouth of the Gulf.

The MIF later diverted the ship to a holding area for further analysis of its cargo after saying it had found evidence the vessel had engaged in smuggling contraband Iraqi oil.

Russia demanded the release of the tanker, which it said was carrying legal Iranian fuel oil.