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Russian war dolphins sold to Iran

TEHRAN, Iran, March 10 (UPI) -- Crimean officials have sold 27 "killer" dolphins, Beluga whales, walruses and sea lions to Iran, the Times of London reported Friday.

The report said a squad of dolphins formerly owned by the Soviet Navy and "trained to kill enemy divers and blow up ships" were sold recently because they were too expensive to keep.

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The creatures were reportedly transported to an undisclosed Iranian base on the Persian Gulf.

The report quotes former submariner Boris Zhurid, who headed up dolphin training for the Soviets, as saying he had been forced to sell the animals because there was no money to feed and maintain them. "Had I been a sadist, I could have stayed in Sevastopol....But I could not bear to see my animals go hungry. We have run out of medicine, which costs thousands of dollars, and have no more fish and food supplements," he told the paper.

According to the report, the former Soviet Union had secret training schools where sea creatures were taught to detect mines and carry explosive charges able to detonate on contact with enemy ships.

Soviet trainers reportedly claimed their animals could distinguish between friendly or enemy submarine engine noises.

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Zhurid said the Iranians have built a "dolphinarium" for research, and presumably, further combat training. There was no report on what the Iranians paid for the animals.

Much of the world's oil is transported through the narrow Straits of Hormuz, which Iran regularly patrols.

In 1987, the U.S. Navy reportedly deployed five dolphins in the Gulf to protect its warships from Iranian mines.

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