Istanbul-based Dogan News Agency says weapons found on plane, which was examined by Turkish security officials, were connected to Iranian nuclear program.
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Turkey ordered a cargo plane carrying arms from Iran to Syria to land at a Turkish airport on Wednesday, the Istanbul-based Dogan News Agency reported.
The plane, which allegedly contained weapons connected to Iran's nuclear program, was forced to landed in the city of Diyarbakir. Security officials arrived at the airport to check the plane's contents, Turkish news agencies reported.
Turkey's official Anatolia news agency confirmed that the plane, heading from Tehran to Aleppo, Syria, was searched Wednesday. But Anatolia and the government did not say what the cargo plane was found to be carrying.
Turkey's foreign ministry played down the report, calling it standard procedure for Iranian cargo planes to request permission to fly over and subsequently be required to make unscheduled landings for inspection.
The report comes just one day after Israel seized a ship smuggling Iranian weapons to Gaza. Israel Defense Forces estimate that the cache found on the ship, which contains missiles with a range of 35 kilometers, could total 50 tons.
An Iranian cargo plane en route to Syria was forced to land in Turkey amid fears it may be carrying military or nuclear material, security sources said Wednesday.
The plane landed following an order from the Turkish foreign ministry, the sources said, and an AFP correspondent at the scene Wednesday said it was still grounded at Diyarbakir airport in southeastern Turkey.
Anti-nuclear, biological and chemical material units of civilian defense teams took part in the inspection of the plane, Anatolia news agency reported.
A Turkish foreign ministry official in Ankara confirmed that the plane had been asked to make a "technical landing", but declined to say why.
"The plane was coming from Iran and going to Syria. It was a cargo plane," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters.
He said the Turkish authorities had a legal right to search the plane and ask for the passports of people on board.
The aircraft complied with an order to land and arrived at Diyarbakir at 11:30 p.m. (2130 GMT), airport officials said on condition they were not identified.
Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency said that the plane took off from Tehran on Tuesday night bound for the Syrian city of Aleppo, Anatolia said.
Two Turkish F-16 fighter planes were put on standby to intervene if the Iranian plane did not obey the orders of Diyarbakir airport officials to land, security sources said.
Witnesses reported seeing a plane, resembling a Russian-made Ilyushin 62, with Arabic or Farsi script and green livery, parked on the tarmac at Diyarbakir airport. The airport is used for both civilian and military aviation.
The plane, which had two pilots, an unknown number of crew members and no passengers, was still waiting to be searched, they said.
Israel seizing cargo ship
The forced landing occurred on the same day Israeli naval commandos seized a cargo ship in the Mediterranean Sea carrying what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were Iranian-supplied weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
Israel said the ship had sailed from the Turkish port of Mersin and was heading for Alexandria in Egypt, but that the arms originated in Iran.
The Israeli military said it believed the weapons were loaded in the Syrian port of Latakia, and stressed that Turkey was in no way involved.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions and an arms embargo on Iran over its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program.
In: Iran, News, Middle East
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