Iran Bound

SEOUL, December 21, 2009 (AFP) – A planeload of weapons from North Korea seized in Bangkok this month was bound for Iran, a newspaper report said Monday, citing documents obtained by arms trafficking experts. US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair had said last week that the 35-tonne cargo, shipped in defiance of UN sanctions on Pyongyang, was bound for an unspecified Middle East destination.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting a flight plan obtained by researchers, said the plane was due to make refuelling stops in Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine before unloading in Tehran.

The paper said its new information came from a joint draft report by analysts at Chicago-based TransArms and the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) in Antwerp.

Thai officials said they impounded the Ilyushin-76 on a US tip-off after it landed to refuel at a Bangkok airport on December 11 with its cargo which included shoulder-launched missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

The Belarussian pilot and four Kazakh crew have been arrested.

Thai officials said the aircraft flew to Pyongyang via Bangkok two weeks ago to collect the cargo, then returned to Bangkok to refuel on December