The weapons were on their way to war-torn Somalia when they were caught by an inspection looking for contraband.
A UN diplomat earlier asked: “Why are Iranian and North Korean small arms finding their way into Somalia from Libya? Do they date from before the arms embargoes (against both North Korea and Iran)? How did they get there from Libya?
“It certainly emphasises the point that Somalia is a country awash with arms and still very fragile.”
It is believed the weapons were sent by Iran in an attempt to arm militants fighting in Somalia.
The ships were intercepted in the Arabian Sea by a French vessel.
The Type 73 machine guns were manufactured in the prison country before being sold to Iran between 1970 and 1980.
In 2001 the income from these activities was estimated to be as high as £800,000 ($1billion).
The news follows shocking claims that Kim Jong-un was prepared to sell nuclear weapons to “anybody with hard currency” including to Iran and terrorist groups, an ex-UN ambassador has claimed.
After the rogue state’s despot leader Kim Jong-un started a furious war of words with US President Donald Trump fears of the possible outbreak of World War 3 intensified.
Mr Bolton added his “preferred outcome” to the growing US-North Korea crisis would be to “reunite the two Koreas” but conceded talks with the hermit state would be a “complete non-starter”.
He said: “My preferred outcome is to reunite the two Koreas. That wouldn’t happen overnight.
“There are a variety of possibilities, one possibility is the Chinese said ‘we’re doing all we can, why don’t you sit down and negotiate with the North Koreans’, which is a complete non-starter in my view.
“I think then the outcome is nearly certain that North Korea will get nuclear weapons and not just North Korea since they’ll sell to anybody with hard currency, Iran, terrorist groups, other aspiring nuclear powers.
“That’s why the resolution of the North Korea issue is so important because the proliferation impact of North Korea visibly getting nuclear weapons around the world would be considerable.”