IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report details the array of Iranian weaponry found onboard the Victoria cargo vessel that was intercepted by the IDF (Zahal) last week
Date: 20/03/2011, 8:45 PM Author: IDF (Zahal) Website
Most of the 50 tons of weapons uncovered onboard the Victoria cargo vessel last week were produced in Iran, according to a report released by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
The Victoria was intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea last Tuesday (Mar. 15) by IDF (Zahal) naval forces some 200 miles off the Israeli coast. The Liberian-flagged vessel was en route from the Mersin Port in Turkey to the Alexandria Port in Egypt when it was boarded by IDF (Zahal) naval commandos. The commandos met no resistance during the boarding operation and the ship was led to the Ashdod Port in Israel. After the weapons were unloaded, the ship was allowed to continue on its way.
The ship had arrived in Mersin from the Lattakia Port in Syria.
Last month, two Iranian warships docked at the Lattakia Port after crossing the Suez Canal.
According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report, around 50 tons of weapons intended for delivery to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip were found onboard the Victoria. The weapons were located in three containers, hidden behind cotton bales and sacks of lentils. The assortment of weapons, most of which were Iranian-produced, included 60mm and 120mm mortar shells, C-704 anti-ship missiles and ammunition for Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The presence of the C-704 anti-ship missiles was notable, as it marked the first time that anti-ship missiles destined for terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip have been captured. The report states that such weapons, which have a range of 35 kilometers, would have threatened Israeli shipping, both military and civilian, as well as strategic targets in the Ashdod and Ashkelon areas.
The report notes that the anti-ship missiles were accompanied by instruction manuals written in Farsi. Emblems of Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were located on the covers of the manuals.
Additionally, the report highlights other recent incidents of weapons smuggling linked to Iran. Earlier this month, British soldiers intercepted a shipment of Iranian arms in Afghanistan. Also, Egypt recently foiled an arms shipment from Sudan that was likely intended to reach terrorist groups in Egypt or the Gaza Strip.
The report goes on to state that the smuggling of weapons on the Victoria represented a violation of both United Nations sanctions on Iran as well civilian naval security and transportation regulations governing the shipping of dangerous materials.
“It is another example of Iran’s strategic endeavor to smuggle weapons to their destinations by sea, air and over land,” the report says. “The Iranians continually learn lessons from interceptions of their arms shipments. The smuggling system is supervised and directed by the Iranian leadership and carried out by the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s main tool for exporting its Islamic revolution.”
According to the report, the weapons found onboard the Victoria included: 230 120mm mortal shells manufactured in Iran; 2,270 M-61 60mm mortar shells accompanied by a range table (according to the table the type of fuse involved was the AZ111-A2, developed and manufactured by Iran); six C-704 anti-ship missiles manufactured in Iran as well as two naval radars and operating stations for the anti-ship missiles; 66,960 7.62 caliber bullets for Kalashnikov assault rifles; and instruction manuals in Farsi and range cards for operating the systems.