US Navy: 70 tons of missile fuel from Iran to Yemen seized

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. Navy said Tuesday it had found 70 tons of a rocket fuel component hidden among sacks of fertilizer aboard a ship bound for Yemen from Iran, the first such seizure in that years’ war. country if a cease-fire has broken down there.

The navy said the amount of ammonium perchlorate discovered could power more than a dozen intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the same weapons Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have used to target both forces affiliated with the country’s internationally recognized government and the Saudi Arabian government. Arab-led coalition to attack. supports them.

The apparent rearmament effort comes as Iran has threatened Saudi Arabia, the United States and other countries during months of protests calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic’s theocracy.. Tehran blames foreign powers — rather than its own frustrated populace — for fueling the protests, which have left at least 344 people killed and 15,820 arrested amid a widening crackdown on dissent there.

The Houthis-Iran mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment.

“This type of shipment and the sheer amount of explosive material alone is a serious concern because it is destabilizing,” said Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Middle East-based 5th Fleet, told The Associated Press. “The illegal movement of weapons from Iran to Yemen leads to instability and violence.”

The US Coast Guard vessel USCGC John Scheuerman and the destroyer USS The Sullivans stopped a traditional wooden sailing vessel known as a dhow in the Gulf of Oman on Nov. 8, the navy said. During a week-long search, sailors discovered bags of ammonium perchlorate hidden in what initially appeared to be a 100-ton urea cargo.

Urea, a fertilizer, can also be used to make explosives.

The dhow was so weighed down by the shipment that it posed a danger to nearby shipping in the Gulf of Oman, a route that leads from the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, to the Indian Ocean. The Navy eventually scuttled the ship with much of the material still on board because of the danger, Hawkins said.

The Sullivans handed over the four Yemeni crew members to the country’s internationally recognized government on Tuesday.

Asked how the Navy managed to stop the ship, Hawkins said only that the Navy knew in “multiple ways” that the ship had the fuel on board and that it was coming from Iran bound for Yemen. He refused to elaborate.

“Given that it was on a route commonly used to smuggle illegal weapons and drugs from Iran to Yemen, you really know what you need to know,” Hawkins said. “Obviously it wasn’t meant for good.”

The Houthis took the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in September 2014, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, armed with US weapons and intelligence, entered the war in March 2015 on the side of Yemen’s government-in-exile. Years of inconclusive fighting have pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

A United Nations arms embargo has banned the transfer of arms to the Houthis since 2014. Despite this, Iran has long provided guns, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weapons to the Houthis through dhow shipments.. While Iran denies it armed the Houthis, independent experts, Western countries and UN experts have traced components seized and detained ships abroad back to Iran.

A six-month ceasefire in the war in Yemen, the longest in the conflict, expired in October despite diplomatic efforts to renew it. That has led to fears that the war could escalate again. More than 150,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Yemen, including more than 14,500 civilians.

There have been sporadic attacks since the ceasefire ended. In late October, a Houthi drone strike targeted a Greek freighter near the port city of Mukallaso that the ship is not damaged.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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