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Pentagon: N. Korea delivers gunboats to Iran


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- North Korea last week delivered 15 gunboats to Iran in a move that is raising concerns with the U.S. Navy about Iran's maritime capabilities, Pentagon sources said Monday.

One U.S. naval source said the boats could carry torpedoes and explosives and lay mines. The boats were delivered via an Iranian freighter to the port of Bandar Abbas at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the sources said.

The shipment includes six coastal patrol boats, two gunboats and five semi-submersibles that can carry two torpedoes each, the sources said.

U.S. officials said they had no reason to believe Iran would target U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, but noted the shipment made the area more complex to assess in terms of threats.

In his 2002 state of the union address, President Bush said North Korea and Iran were part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq.

The announcement came one week after Spanish and coalition forces in the Arabian Sea seized a North Korean freighter carrying 15 Scud missiles to Yemen hidden under bags of cement.

The ship was allowed to continue Wednesday after the Yemeni government told the United States it had purchased the missiles from North Korea for defensive purposes.

Pentagon officials said Monday a team of Navy explosives experts obtained serial numbers and markers from the missiles so U.S. intelligence can identify them should they appear outside Yemen.



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