On July 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that U.S. and partner forces had seized Iranian arms bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen. The weapons – including 200 rocket-propelled grenades, more than 1,700 AK rifles and various types of missiles – were found on a boat off the coast of Yemen on June 28. It was the third arms shipment interdicted by the United States since November 2019.
Iran is widely accused of backing the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni-majority government since 2004. The Houthis took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014 and proceeded to take control over much of northern Yemen. A Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen in 2015. The war between the Houthis and Yemen’s internationally recognized government and its supporters dragged on, despite U.N. efforts to broker peace talks.
Related Material: “Iran, Yemen and the Houthis”
“Iran is not abiding by the U.N. arms embargo restrictions that are due to expire in less than four months now,” Pompeo said. The United States has launched a diplomatic initiative to extend the embargo, which prohibits countries from selling conventional weapons to Iran and also bans Iran from exporting arms.
Tehran denied the U.S. accusation about the arms shipment to Yemen. “Americans are trying to provide excuses to continue their maximum pressure on Iran, advance their malicious goals and to extend the arms embargo on Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said. The following are remarks by U.S. and Iranian officials on the alleged Iranian arms shipment.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 8: Last week, a United Nations report confirmed that the weapons shipments the United States interdicted back in November of 2019 and then again in February of this year were of Iranian origin. You’ll recall that when we said that, the Iranians denied it. The UN has now confirmed this. Iran is not abiding by the UN arms embargo restrictions that are due to expire in less than four months now.
Now, we have interdicted another shipment of weapons heading to the Houthis.
On June 28th, U.S. and partner forces interdicted a vessel off the coast of Yemen with illicit cargo including 200 RPGs, more than 1,700 AK rifles, 21 – 21 surface-to-air and land-attack missiles, several anti-tank missiles, and other advanced weapons and missiles.
The Security Council must extend the arms embargo on Iran to prevent further conflict in the region. No serious person can possibly believe Iran would use any weapon it receives for peaceful ends.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi on July 9: “Lying, accusations and spreading hatred are key elements of America’s foreign policy, especially in the current regime.”
“Americans are trying to provide excuses to continue their maximum pressure on Iran, advance their malicious goals and to extend the arms embargo on Iran.”