A ship suspected of transporting arms from Iran to Gaza had no weaponry aboard but was carrying material that could be used to make munitions, authorities in Cyprus said.
Cypriot authorities began unloading the cargo Friday, after the government said it breached a UN ban on Iranian arms exports.
"There are no weapons. There is material that could be used in the manufacture of munitions," Defense Minister Costas Papacostas said.
The Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk has been anchored off port of Limassol since Jan. 29.
Papacostas said more than 90 containers loaded with seized material will be stored at a naval base near the port.
The US military said it found artillery shells and other arms aboard the ship after stopping it last month in the Red Sea. But it could not legally detain the ship, which continued on to Cyprus, which continued to Port Said, Egypt, and then to Cyprus.
US officials had said the ship was headed for Syria, and Iran denies the ship was carrying Iranian weapons destined for Gaza.
Last week, Cyprus applied for and received guidance from the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on whether the cargo breached sanctions barring Iran from sending arms abroad.
Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou repeated Friday that the material contravened the UN ban. "According to the resolutions, it is the responsibility of the ship's flag country to prevent the transport of such cargo," Kyprianou said. "We have done what was self-evident."
Kyprianou said the material will remain on the island after it was deemed safe for storage. He said the possibility of destroying the material is "a technical matter" to be examined "at the appropriate time."