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Reports: Iranian Warships Dock In Sudan

10/30/2012 2:54 AM ET

Two Iranian warships carrying a message of peace and security to neighboring countries have docked in Sudan, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

According to the IRNA report, the ships that docked in Sudan on Monday were the Shahid Naqdi, a corvette-class vessel, and the Kharg, a supply vessel that can carry three helicopters. It said the two vessels left from a port in southern Iran last month.

IRNA quoted the Iranian Navy as saying that the visit was aimed at "conveying the message of peace and friendship to the neighboring countries and ensuring security for seafaring and shipping lanes against marine terrorism and piracy."

Although the IRNA report did not identify the port, the semi-official FARS news agency said the two Iranian naval vessels docked in Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

The development comes days after Sudan blamed Israel for last week's explosions at an ordnance factory in capital Khartoum, believed to be operated by Iran. Khartoum alleged that four Israeli fighter jets bombed the Yarmouk arms factory in Khartoum last Tuesday. At least two people were killed in the incident.

Sudan's Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman told reporters in Khartoum last Wednesday that his government believed "Israel did the bombing." He stressed that investigators have unearthed evidence linking Israel to the attack on the factory manufacturing "traditional weapons."

Sudan has since taken up the issue with the U.N. Security Council, urging the world body to condemn Israel for allegedly violating its airspace and denounce the raid as "a blatant violation of the concept of peace and security."

Israel is yet to respond to the Sudanese allegations. Although Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to comment on Sudan's claims, one Israeli defense official told army radio last Wednesday that Sudan was a "dangerous terrorist state."

Although Iran has not linked the visit of its naval vessels to Sudan with the alleged Israeli air strike on the arms factory, there have been speculations that the targeted factory was being used by Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to produce weapons for the Palestinian militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Nevertheless, Sudan's Foreign Ministry denied the allegations in a statement issued on Monday. The statement read: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms what is known by all: that Iran has no need to manufacture weapons in Sudan, for Iran or for its allies. We want to deny any relation between Sudan's military manufacturing and any foreign partner."

This is not the first time that Sudan has accused Israel of carrying out such air strikes inside its territory. In April 2011, Sudan blamed Israel for a deadly air strike that killed two people near the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast.

Prior to that incident, Sudan had blamed Israel for a similar assault on a convoy of suspected arms smugglers in the Red Sea State in January 2009. At least 40 people were killed in that air strike, which happened near Sudan's border with Egypt.

Although there were speculations that the two earlier attacks were carried out by Israel as part of its efforts to stop the flow of weapons into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the Jewish nation is yet to confirm or deny those claims.

by RTT Staff Writer

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