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Iran denies link to weapons seized in Thailand

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran denied on Tuesday claims by Thailand that a planeload of North Korean weapons seized there in December was headed to Iran.

"There is no link between the aircraft and our country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.

He said Iran had no need to import such arms due to its own weapons industry, which includes rockets, tanks, jet fighters, light submarines and missiles.

Thailand said Monday that the aircraft, which was seized on a refueling stop, was heading to Iran, though it did not know the ultimate destination of the 35 tons of weaponry.

The shipment, which violated U.N. sanctions against North Korea, reportedly included light battlefield arms such as grenades, which are not believed to be in high demand by Iran's sophisticated military.

There has, however, been speculation that the weapons were destined for some of the radical Middle Eastern groups supported by Tehran.

The plane's chief pilot, among five crewmen detained in Thailand, maintains that the aircraft was headed for Kiev, Ukraine.