U.S. Seizes Iranian-made Missiles in Arabian Sea

On February 13, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said that it had seized a large cache of Iranian-made weapons from a dhow in the Arabian Sea. The military equipment, which included surface-to-air-missiles and anti-tank missiles, was “identical” to the weapons systems captured by the United States in the northern Arabian Sea in November, according to the CENTCOM statement. The United States “assessed” that those arms were produced by Iran and bound for Yemen’s Houthis in violation of a U.N. Security Council embargo on supplying arms to the rebels. 

The Houthi rebels are members of a Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni-majority government since 2004. The Houthis took over the capital Sanaa in 2014 and seized control over much of north Yemen by 2016. The United States and Sunni Gulf states have alleged that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have provided arms, training and financial support to the Houthis. But Iranian and Hezbollah officials have denied or downplayed the claims. The following is the CENTCOM press release. 


CENTCOM Press Release

On Feb. 9, 2020, USS Normandy (CG 60), while conducting maritime security operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, boarded a dhow in accordance with international law and discovered a large cache of weapons.

The weapons seized include 150 'Dehlavieh' anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs. Other weapons components seized aboard the dhow were of Iranian design and manufacture and included three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, Iranian thermal imaging weapon scopes, and Iranian components for unmanned aerial and surface vessels, as well as other munitions and advanced weapons parts.

Many of these weapons systems are identical to the advanced weapons and weapon components seized by guided-missile destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) in the Arabian Sea on Nov. 25, 2019. Those weapons were determined to be of Iranian origin and assessed to be destined for the Houthis in Yemen, which would be in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution that prohibits the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Houthis.

The seized weapons are in U.S. custody awaiting final disposition. The assessment of the materiel will be an interagency and international effort.

International partner nations and organizations have also been invited to inspect the cache.

The operation is ongoing, and further information will be shared as it becomes available.


For more information on Yemen's Houthis see:

Iran, Yemen and the Houthis