North Korea sent fifteen gunboats to Iran last week aboard an Iranian freighter that arrived at around the same time US and Spanish warships temporarily seized a shipment of North Korean Scud missiles, The Washington Times reported.
The gunboats, according to the Monday report, consisted of several special-forces craft called semi-submersibles - vessels that move just below the water’s surface.
According to the Times, the 15 gunboats were carried aboard the Iranian freighter Iran Meead that slipped into the port of Bandar Abbas, a day before a North Korean freighter was seized and boarded several hundred miles to the south last week. The ship was found to be carrying 15 Scud missiles and warheads bound for the Republic of Yemen.
The gunboat delivery, traced by American intelligence, stresses North Korea's role as a main weapons supplier to “rogue states”, the Times said.
The gunboats were identified as six Peykaap coastal patrol boats, two Tir gunboats and five Taedong underwater vessels. The ship arrived in Bandar Abbas on December 8, according to the report.
For their part, US intelligence officials believe Tehran could use the gunboat and torpedo craft to threaten US ships throughout the region.
American officials said the delivery last week was the second shipment of North Korean gunboats to Iran this year.
In March, North Korea sent another shipment of coastal patrol boats aboard the Iran Meead. Those types of patrol boats, however, were not identified. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )