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Russia Says School Bus Missile Can't Be Theirs

Israeli and Russian officials are examining the source of the Kornet missile used in last month's school bus attack; Russia: it can't be ours.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 5/18/2011, 4:52 PM / Last Update: 5/18/2011, 9:27 PM

Flash 90

Senior Russian security officials stationed in the Middle East who examined the anti-tank missile fired in last month's Nahal Oz school bus attack say the missile was not Russian-made, the Hebrew-language Maariv reports.

In recent months three such missiles have been fired at Israeli targets. Two were attacks on IDF vehicles, while the third claimed the life of 16 year old Daniel Weplich.

Israel placed responsibility squarely on Russian shoulders saying the Russian Federation sold 9M133 Kornet missiles to Iran and Syria, which were later smuggled to Hamas in Gaza. Following the Nahal Oz attack the IDF said their was clear evidence a Kornet missile was used.

Israeli security officials, currently consulting with their Russian counterparts, say the Russians have the ability to trace every Kornet they sell and that they intend to determine the source of the missile fired at the school bus.

The Russians say, however, that the Kornet used was "reverse engineered" – an imitation rather than an original.

"This cannot be Russian made," a Russian security official protested. "If this was an authentic Kornet the bus would have been destroyed. The bus wasn't damaged that much."

The investigation is ongoing. Israeli officials have yet to confirm Russian protestations of innocence by reason of superior engineering.

UNIFIL has reported finding Kornet missiles in Hizbullah weapons caches in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah is known heavily involved in smuggling weapons to Hamas.

Also, the US government recently filed a strong protest with Russia about its weapons sales in the region, especially to Syria and Iran. The complaint specifically noted Kornet missiles. According to the Americans, these missiles have been used against American soldiers stationed in Iraq.