Heads are sure to roll in Tehran after Israel, Egypt and Turkey all intercepted Iranian arms shipments yesterday. That’s three busts in one week.
1. Yesterday, Turkey forced an Iranian cargo plane (bound for Syria) to land after entering Turkish airspace. Hurriyet writes:
The plane, reportedly carrying military equipment, was ordered to land after the authorities received a tip that it carried nuclear weapons . . .
The plane was still being searched for nuclear materials Wednesday morning and hazardous materials teams were present at the airport, DHA added.
(UPDATE 4:20 pm: Now Turkey says it’s standard procedure for cargo planes overflying to sometimes make unscheduled landings for inspections. I’m impressed that standby HazMat teams are standard too.)
2. On Sunday, an arms convoy of five trucks that entered Egypt from Sudan was shelled by Egyptian security forces. The convoy was apparently en route to Gaza.
I haven’t seen anything officially tying the convoy to Iran, but this has all the hallmarks of the Islamic Republic. In 2009, Israeli drones destroyed a larger Iranian convoy in the Sudan desert.
3. The Turkish intercept was overshadowed by the Israeli navy intercepting the “Victoria,” which I blogged yesterday. The IDF’s list of weapons seized includes:
- 230 mortar shells, 120 mm
- 2,270 mortar shells, 60 mm
- 6 C-704 anti-ship missiles (these included Persian identification docs and Iranian emblems)
- 2 radar systems manufactured in England
- 2 launchers
- 2 hydraulic mounting cranes for radar system
- 66,960 Kalashnikov bullets, 7.62 millimeter
The Victoria departed from the Syrian port of Latakia. So Syrian intelligence will have its own accountability issues to deal with too.
The Victoria affair comes one day after another largely overlooked development: Cyprus became the first country to officially declare it will not cooperate with any future flotillas.