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Arctic Sea carried arms for Iran - newspaper

The Arctic Sea

The Arctic Sea

A Maltese-flagged ship that vanished for some days had been carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by Mossad, the Israeli security service, according to sources in both Russia and Israel, The Sunday Times (of London) has reported.

The Arctic Sea, officially carrying timber, disappeared en route from Finland to Algeria on July 24. It was recovered off west Africa on August 17 when eight alleged hijackers were arrested. The Kremlin has consistently denied that the vessel was carrying a secret cargo. It claims the ship was hijacked by criminals who demanded ransom.

Maltese maritime authorities later the denied that the ship had ever disappeared saying that its location had always been known to authorities.

The Sunday Times said that the official story was challenged by sources in Tel Aviv and Moscow who claimed the ship had been loaded with S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad.

Mossad, which closely monitors arms supplies to Iran, is said to have tipped off the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the underworld.

Sources told the newspaper that Mossad may have played a part in the alleged hijacking of the ship by setting up a criminal gang, who were unlikely to have known anything about a secret cargo.

“Once the news of the hijack broke, the game was up for the arms dealers. The Russians had to act. That’s why I don’t rule out Mossad being behind the hijacking. It stopped the shipment and gave the Kremlin a way out so that it can now claim it mounted a brilliant rescue mission,” the source told The Sunday Times.

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