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When Israel alleged that high grade weaponry seized from a cargo ship off its coast was of Iranian origin, it elicit a quick denial from the Islamic Republic. It was but the latest in a series of denials issued by Iran over its involvement in a wide range of subterfuge — refutations that can’t disguise its growing menace.
The weapons were discovered on the cargo ship Victoria, a German-owned and French-operated vessel. The ship had departed from the Syrian port of Latakia, stopping briefly in the Turkish port of Mercin, before sailing toward Egypt where it was seized by IDF forces 200 miles off the Israeli Mediterranean coast. The weapons were believed to be destined for Gaza for use by Hamas and other terrorist groups.
Although Egypt and Turkey were not believed to be involved in the smuggling operation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was confident where blame should be assigned: “The only certain thing is the source of the weaponry was Iran, and there was a Syrian relay station as well. This is the main axis that provides the forces of terror in Lebanon and Gaza.”
The weapons, the manuals of which were in Farsi, included land-to-sea missiles, mortars and rockets. According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the armaments were ones that Gaza militants do not currently possess: “We suspect, or think, that among the weaponry are the beginnings of an advanced system that could affect our freedom of operations along the Gaza coast.”
The allegations were quickly dismissed by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, who warned: “Don’t trust Israeli media news. There is no such thing. We do not confirm it in any way.” The denial fits the usual pattern of Iranian deception.
The international community has long-accused Iran of trying to acquire nuclear weapons, while Iran has consistently and strenuously denied the charges. On February 27, new allegations by the IAEA charged that Iran “is developing a nuclear payload for its missile program,” but Iran offered another excuse.
According to the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s nuclear program was not only peaceful in nature but compliant as well: “The important point is that the full detailed report regarding all our nuclear activities shows full supervision by the IAEA and no deviation to prohibited ends.”
Then, in early March — amidst reports that Iran was training, arming and funding Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents — NATO forces in Afghanistan discovered a large weapons cache that British foreign secretary William Hague said “no doubt… came from Iran.”
Ramin Mehmanparast was again trotted out to assuage concerns by laying blame at the feet of a hostile media. He yawned, “Releasing fabricated news about Iran’s arming of extremist groups in Afghanistan or other countries has become a boring repeated issue.”
Iran has also been hiding internal trouble with its resurgent Green Movement, which has seen the arrest of its two most important opposition leaders–Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi. Yet Iranian officials have been unable to admit opposition protests have even taken place.
Specifically, Iranian opposition websites, including Sahmnews, said at least 79 people were arrested at a demonstration on March 15. Yet, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told the Fars news agency: “A limited number of people, influenced by anti-revolutionary groups, were intending to do something. Yet no specific incident happened in Tehran.”
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