Russia denies mystery ship was carrying missiles to Iran
Speculation that the Arctic Sea cargo ship seized in the Baltic in July was carrying weapons or other illicit cargo continues to swirl.
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"The investigation is going on and it will take some time before we have concluded," says Jan-Olof Nyholm, a detective superintendent for Finland's National Bureau of Investigation and a spokesman for the four-nation, Helsinki-based police task force investigating the case. When asked if the task force has had access to the crew and hijackers as yet, he stated emphatically, "I think we'll make some progress here."Skip to next paragraph
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European Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr says events surrounding the Arctic Sea may "certainly one day be made the story of a Hollywood movie." But Mr. Kraska says the hijacking is already a case of life imitating art. He says it reminds him of the Nicolas Cage film "Lord of War," in which a Russian-American uses his ties to the military to become the worlds largest illegal arms dealer.
Kraska says that an attempt at weapons smuggling by military insiders followed by a coverup by Russia when it was discovered, is likely. "In Russia, in particular, it seems the left hand and the right hand may not [always] be on the same page," he says.
Kraska, a serving naval officer, says he believes the Arctic Sea was involved with "illicit cargo ... weapon sales." He adds that it appeared, "some other group knew about it, and thought that they could capitalize on the idea.... It somewhat fell apart, and now Russia is holding the bag."
Russia agreed to sell its S-300 missile system to Iran in 2007, which prompted furious complaints from the US and Israel. The system has the ability to intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at a range of about 100 miles, and is more powerful than the Tor-M1 missile defense system that Russia sold to Iran for $700 million in 2005. Russia has not so far delivered the S-300s, apparently taking into account international unease over Iran's nuclear program.
The day after the 7,000-ton Arctic Sea was recovered by the Russian frigate Ladny off Africa's Cape Verde islands, Israeli President Shimon Peres flew unexpectedly to Moscow. He met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and said he'd earned a promise from Russia that it would reconsider the Iran weapons deal.