The rockets were M-302C, M-302D and M-302E with ranges of 100-130 miles (160-215 km), putting all of Israel in their range from Gaza. They were made in Syria.
The IDF Intelligence sources were quoted by as saying that Iran’s Quds Force was behind the elaborate plan to ship the rockets by air from Damascus International Airport to Iran, presumably through Iraqi airspace, then taking them to Bandar Abbas.
The ship, KLOS C (IMO: 8918710; MMSI: 373773000), is a general cargo vessel registered in Panama. The IDF says the ship left Bandar Abbas, made a stop at Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, where it loaded some more cargo containers, and then sailed toward Sudan. IDF says by stopping in Iraq, the Iranians were obscuring their tracks. IDF was reportedly following the weapons transfer for several months.
The ship was intercepted at 05:30 local time on Wednesday in the Red Sea by Shayetet 13, Israeli navy’s special forces, and along with its 17-man crew was taken to an Israeli port.
Later today, the Israeli foreign ministry said that it will lodge a formal complaint with UN Security Council against Iran. If the Iranians were behind the shipment, they are in violation of UNSC resolutions 1747 and 1929, prohibiting arms exports from Iran, and they could be referred to a special Iran sanctions committee set up by UNSC under resolution 1737.
UPDATE: The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Wednesday that the U.S. military was prepared to get involved in the seizure of the cargo ship KLOS C. Psaki added, however, that Israel “ultimately chose to take the lead.” The U.S. and Israel worked together, Psaki said, to track the ship.
UPDATE: Iran has denied the report, calling it “totally without foundation.” (Al Alam, 5 March)
Sources: AP, AFP, Defense-Update, JewishPress (5 March 2014)
File photo above: KLOS C seen at one of its recent port visits. (Super Jeq/marinetraffic.com)
Photos below, from top to bottom:
- Israeli naval commandos inspecting wooden carts containing M-302 rockets loaded on the KLOS-C. (IDF/JewishPress)
- Special operators of IDF’s naval commando unit ‘Shayetet 13′ in a training exercise on a Sa’ar 5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy. (IDF.JewishPress)
- A still photo grabbed from an IDF video showing sacks of cement allegedly used to hide the missiles.