The transfer of ownership to Iran came about when funding for the Russian project ran out and the dolphins’ trainer, Boris Zhurid, took them on himself.
The highly-trained killers were forced to perform for tourists in a dolphinarium but Zhurid eventually ran out of money and food when the harsh winter months turned the paying public away.
Desperate not to see his beloved aquatic squadron suffer, he sold them to Iran.
The US protested the selling of “arms” – killer dolphins in this case – to Iran, but Zhurid told Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that he was “prepared to go to Allah, or even to the devil, as long as my animals will be OK there.”
He told the paper: “If I were a sadist, then I could have remained in Sevastopol.
“But I cannot bear to see my animals starve. … We’re out of medicine, which costs thousands of dollars, and have no more fish or food supplements.”
Military.com reports the dolphin unit was moved from a base in the Russian Pacific area to the Crimean Peninsula in 1991 – the year the Soviet Union collapsed.
But they were then moved from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf after Iran paid for them.
It is unclear what use the dolphins would be in the Persian Gulf.
Komsomolskaya Pravda reports Zhurid continued his military work with the dolphins in Iran.
The original fleet of killer dolphins could still be going strong, as they have a life span of 50 years.
The BBC reported in 2000 that the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has conducted research which found several ex-Soviet military dolphins have been sold to aquariums around the world.
Sadly, many of the intelligent creatures were kept in poor conditions and died while making the journey.
But Zhurid told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Iran had built a new oceanarium for his beloved animals.
He claimed to be continuing scientific research, however the Russian newspaper reported that this was primarily of a military nature.
The dolphins were described as “mercenaries”.
The newspaper wrote: “In essence, Iran has bought our former secret weapon from Ukraine on the cheap.”