Manama: Kuwait has seized an Iranian ship smuggling guns into the country and has arrested two Iranians, Kuwaiti media reported yesterday.

Customs uncovered the five shotguns and more than 14,000 bullets aboard the ship as it docked at a port in Kuwait. The arms and ammunition were hidden inside furniture and foodstuffs on the ship, the reports said. The two-man crew is being questioned by the state security agency. Relations between Kuwait City and Tehran have suffered a heavy blow after a Kuwaiti court sentenced two Iranians to death for their alleged role in an espionage network working for Iran.

Tehran has denied the spy ring charge. Last week, Kuwaiti lawmakers sought to question Prime Minister Shaikh Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah over the nation's thawing diplomatic relations with Iran, which they say risk undermining relations with other Gulf countries.


Waleed Al Tabatabaei, Mohammad Al Mutari and Mubarak Al Wa'alan, all Islamist members of Parliament, asked to question the prime minister, claiming the government is "harming Kuwait's national security and ties with GCC states through its biased foreign affairs with the Iranian regime," according to a copy of the request distributed to reporters on Sunday in Kuwait City.

Tensions between the GCC and Iran have escalated since mainly protests started in Bahrain in February. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi visited Kuwait two weeks ago, announcing the two countries will exchange ambassadors again after a dispute over an alleged spy network operating in Kuwait led to both sides expelling diplomats.

"The Kuwaiti nation observed with a lot of resentment, anger and surprise, the hosting by Shaikh Nasser's government of the Iranian regime's foreign minister, in an official visit to Kuwait on May 18," the lawmakers said in their questioning. "It's a visit that was arranged despite the exceptional and bad conditions" of the GCC states' relations with Tehran, they added.

Adding to tensions, a Kuwaiti court in March sentenced to death two Iranians and one Kuwaiti for spying for Iran. Iran has denied any link to the alleged network.

It's the second request this month to question Shaikh Nasser. Kuwait's parliament on May 17 voted in favour of a government decision to postpone a questioning by legislators over a number of issues including the government's alleged failure to implement a $112 billion development plan.

Shaikh Nasser has survived two non-cooperation votes in parliament since his appointment five years ago by Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. The premier's seventh Cabinet since 2006 was announced on May 8.