U.S. Warship in Arabian Sea Seizes Suspected Iranian Weapons

Cheryl Sanders
February 15, 2020

Navy personnel serving on the US cruiser Normandy uncovered a shipment of weapons aboard of a sailboat in the Arabian Sea after boarding the vessel "in accordance with global law", the US Central Command said on Thursday.

It did not say what kind of surface-to-air missiles were seized.

Other weapons were also Iranian design and manufacture, including three surface-to-air missiles, thermal imaging weapon scopes, components for unmanned aerial and surface vessels, as well as other munitions and advanced weapons parts.

Hundreds of missiles, weapons and munitions likely headed from Iran to Houthi militants in Yemen are in USA hands, intercepted during an operation earlier this week in the Arabian Sea.

The Pentagon said the weapons were "identical" to cargo seized by the U.S. last November, which had been bound for Yemen's Houthi rebels in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution.

The US has consistently accused Iran of illegally smuggling arms to the Houthis, and has seized numerous weapons shipments in transit in recent months.

Tehran is prohibited by a UN resolution from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside Iran unless approved by the United Nations Security Council; a separate resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who are fighting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

They are now being examined by global weapons inspectors.

Pompeo on Wednesday discussed Yemen and Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Washington.

Harrell noted that shipping such weapons to Yemen, where a bloody civil war has produced one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes, "would be in violation of a U.N. Security Council Resolution that prohibits the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis".

Global efforts at brokering a ceasefire and peace deal have been unsuccessful.

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