The United States has accused Hezbollah of stockpiling weapons and ammonium nitrate caches for use in explosives across Europe in recent years, in an alleged attempt to prepare for future attacks ordered by Iran.
The allegation was made by the State Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales, who called on European countries to take a stronger line on the backed Lebanese Shiite political movement and militia. by Tehran.
The claim that Hezbollah transported and stored ammonium nitrate across Europe comes six weeks after a warehouse full of ammonium nitrate exploded in the port of Beirut, devastating the Lebanese capital.
An investigation is underway into the blast and how the chemical, which is used as a fertilizer as well as in explosives, was left in port for six years after being confiscated from a ship. Hezbollah is said to have significant influence on the operation of the port.
“I can reveal that such [Hezbollah weapons] the caches were moved across Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. I can also reveal that significant caches of ammonium nitrate have been discovered or destroyed in France, Greece and Italy, ”Sales said in a video appearance to the American Jewish Committee, a state-based advocacy group. -United.
“We have reason to believe that this activity is still ongoing. In 2018, caches of ammonium nitrate were still suspected in Europe, possibly Greece, Italy and Spain. “
The sales added: “Why would Hezbollah store ammonium nitrate on European soil? The answer is clear. He can carry out major terrorist attacks whenever his masters in Tehran deem it necessary.
The EU has designated Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist group, but not its political wing, due to lack of unanimity on the issue. The UK and Germany designated the entire organization as a terrorist entity earlier this year, and the US has pushed for the rest of Europe to follow suit.
“Hezbollah represents a clear and present danger for the United States today. Hezbollah represents a clear and present danger for Europe today, ”said Sales.
“The bottom line is that the EU’s approach since 2013 just hasn’t worked. The limited designation of the so-called military wing of Hezbollah did not deter the group from preparing for terrorist attacks across the continent. Hezbollah continues to view 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. “
The US allegations came at a time of growing tension with Iran since Donald Trump pulled the US out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and began imposing a broad economic and financial embargo.
This weekend, the United States will assert that UN sanctions against Iran will be back in force, after a five-year suspension following the nuclear deal, although almost all other members of the United Nations Security Council have the right to trigger the sanctions.