The UK Seizes Iranian missiles bound for Yemen

A British Royal Navy vessel seized a sophisticated shipment of Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman earlier this year, officials said Thursday, pointing to the interdiction as proof of Tehran’s support for the Houthi militias in Yemen.

The British government statement provided some of the strongest findings to date that Tehran is arming the Houthis against the legitimate government with advanced weapons smuggled through the Gulf.

Despite a United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Yemen, Iran has long been suspected of transferring rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles, and other weaponry to the Houthis since the war began in 2015.

The UK Embassy in the United Arab Emirates described the seizure of surface-to-air Iranian missiles and engines for land-attack cruise missiles as “the first time a British naval warship has interdicted a vessel carrying such sophisticated weapons from Iran.”

Citing a forensic analysis last month, the British navy linked the batch of rocket engines seized earlier this year to an Iranian-made cruise missile with a 1,000-kilometer range that it said the militias have used against Saudi Arabia.

The Houthis also used Iranian missiles to attack an oil facility in Abu Dhabi in January of this year, the British navy said, an assault that killed three people.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations rejected the UK’s findings as “groundless,” saying that Iran has “never transported weapons or military equipment to Yemen” in violation of the UN arms embargo and “always upheld its international obligations.”

The HMS Montrose’s helicopter had been scanning for illicit goods in the Gulf of Oman on January 28 and February 25 when it spotted small vessels speeding away from the Iranian coast with “suspicious cargo on deck.” A team of Royal Marines then halted and searched the boats, confiscating the weapons in international waters south of Iran.

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