American intelligence officials tipped off Thai authorities who confiscated 35 tons of weapons, including missiles and explosives, probably headed for Iran, which supplies Hizbullah and Hamas. A Russian plane was seized during a refueling stop in Bangkok on Monday.
Five men were arrested but are not cooperating with investigators, according to Australian and British news sources. The cargo included rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missile launchers. The weapons were in 12 tightly-sealed wood and metal crates that were listed as oil-drilling equipment. The United Nations has placed sanctions against North Korea’s arms trading,
Although Pakistan was a possible destination for the weapons, most suspicions were aimed at Iran, which was the destination of a previous shipment impounded in July in the United Arab Emirates. The ship’s cargo contained enough explosive powder for thousands of short-range rockets.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva suggested that the arms may have been bound for terrorist organizations.
North Korea has circumvented the United Nations ban and earns approximately $1 billion a year in arms sales.