January 27, 2011

Russia's secret torpedoes sold to Iran from Kirghizia?

(Rusnavy) : Editorial staff of Russian news agency REGNUM obtained unverified information that components of secret torpedoes Shkval which are currently in service at Russian Navy were sold to Iran last year.

According to the source, the deliveries were carried out in 2010. Components of the Russian naval weapon were illegally sold from Dastan plant located in Bishkek, Kirghizia. Aside from commercial goods, this instrument engineering plant has been producing torpedo elements since Soviet times.

In recent years 53% shares of Dastan were held by the circle of ex-president Bakiev. In accordance with intergovernmental agreements of 2009, Russia planned to acquire shares of Dastan in exchange for a $180-mln debt relief and a $2-bln investment credit.

Despite the fact that Russia transfered the first tranche on time and in full ($300 mln arrived in Kirghizian budget in mid-2009), shares were not transferred then. After change of power in Apr 2010, new leaders of the country confirmed intentions to transfer the shares to Russia. However, the situation has not been changed so far – the plant's shares have not been transferred to Russia.

Note that numerous scandals have recently blazed up around leadership of the plant. At first, Kirghizian media reported about an incident in Manas International Airport when the plant's chief engineer allegedly was almost got off the plane by security authorities. Simultaneously, it was reported that the national procuracy launched an inquiry into "the instances of fraud and illegally held tender". Later on, it was reported of wage arrears in the plant. Here is how it was described by the local news agencies: "According to the Ministry of State Property, there was $2.66 mln on account of JSC Dastan prior to appointment of new directors. As for employees, by Aug 2010 these funds had been completely spent, although it is uncertain for what exactly".

On Dec 28, 2010 the president of Dastan Corporation Sergei Danilenko was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention center. A bit earlier, Kirghizian law-enforcement agencies arrested chief engineer of JSC TNK Dastan Boris Udot (court changed the measure of restraint with house arrest). According to unverified information, apart from financial violations, the company directors were charged of "illegal deliveries of special-purpose devices".

For over a year Kirghizian side has been explaining time delay in share transfer as "confusions and irregularities while the plant's privatization".

Dastan plant produces warhead elements for Shkval-type torpedoes which can be made both in nuclear (up to 150 kiloton yield) and conventional (210 kg of chemical explosives) variants. According to sources of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "it is hard to overestimate significance of this kind of weapon for Russia, especially after ratification of new Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty... Shkval torpedoes are in service on surface ships and submarines of Russian Navy. Experts say the world had not seen a torpedo comparable to Shkval in speed for a long time. Only in 2005 Germany managed to create a Shkval-like torpedo..."

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