Remember the Arctic Sea? It was the Finnish ship that was either hijacked, picked up some floundering boaters, suffered a radio malfunction, carrying illegal arms, or some combination of those.
One of the rumors swirling around was that the ship was carrying S300 surface to air missiles to Iran. The idea was rejected by most (including myself…but what the hell do I know). But, once the ship was recovered the story died and discussions of its possible cargo faded to the realm of water cooler speculation (What kind of water cooler do you hang around at? eds.).
But then…out of the blue, Iran announced it had four S300s. But wait, it gets more interesting…
The Fars news agency said Wednesday that Iran has obtained two missiles from Belarus and two others from another unspecified source. [italics added]
And even better…
A spokesman for Belarus’ state military trade committee denied that any missiles had been transferred.
There are just so many ways this could play out, it’s dizzying. Does Iran want Israel and the U.S. to think they have the S300 system (to deter an attack) and therefore might be willing to claim they have them, even if they don’t? Would the U.S. be willing to downplay or deny the existence of Iranian S300sin order to avoid escalating tensions? Would the Russians (or anyone else) want to thumb their noses at U.S. objections and sell a few of these systems to Iran?
So, is it possible that the Arctic Sea did have some S300s on board and that they managed to get them to Iran? If so, could it be that the two IL-76s that the Russians sent purportedly to bring the two dozen sailors was really a deception operation to make everyone think that they had taken those S300s off ship and were sending them back to Russia when, in fact, they had already been delivered?