Members of the U.S. Navy boarded a boat in the Arabian Sea and confiscated a shipment Iran-made anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, U.S. Central Command said Thursday, February 13.
CENTCOM said it assesses the weapons were en route to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The seizure included 150 Dehlavieh anti-armor missiles as well as “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,” the press release read.
The Dehlavieh anti-tank missile is considered a copy of the Russian laser-guided Kornet system.
The announcement added that many of the weapons were “identical” to those seized by the USS Forrest Sherman in the Arabian Sea in November 2019.
The U.S. has publicized a number of intercepted shipments of Iran-made weapons and components in the Arabian Sea in recent years.
The Houthis have launched increasingly sophisticated ballistic missiles since the start of the conflict in 2015, striking targets in Saudi Arabia and shooting down U.S. drones over Yemen. The rebels claim their missiles are indigenously developed.
The Houthis took credit for a coordinated drone and cruise missile attack on two major Saudi oil production facilities in September.
The U.S. accused Iran of bearing responsibility for the attack and has offered a $15 million reward for information on Abdulreza Shahlaie, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander whom the Trump administration suspects of helping the Houthis obtain Iranian-made weapons.
The Trump administration ordered the killing of the IRGC’s Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January. Iran retaliated for the general’s death by launching more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi airbases, afflicting more than 100 U.S. military personnel with concussive brain injuries.
Shipping weapons to Yemen is a violation of a United Nations arms embargo.
The U.S. has sold weapons and logistically supported the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in support the Yemeni government against the rebels, which the U.N. has blamed for a majority of that conflict’s civilian deaths.
The U.N. has called Yemen’s civil war the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe and warned foreign nations, including Iran and the U.S., of potential complicity in war crimes for supporting parties to the conflict.
Washington is engaged in a “maximum pressure” campaign to isolate Iran economically and politically after the Trump administration withdrew from the landmark international 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
The Trump administration accuses Iran of exploiting concessions in the agreement, such as the lift on a ban on Iran’s ballistic missile program, to expand its conventional strike range and project military and political influence on the ground in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Iran has denied it arms the Houthis, who have solidified control over much of north Yemen since the outbreak of the country’s civil war in 2015.