Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

United States warship seizes suspected Iranian weapons in Arabian Sea

United States warship seizes suspected Iranian weapons in Arabian Sea

In recent years, U.S. warships have intercepted and seized several shipments of Iranian arms that Washington says were likely bound for Iran-backed Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Navy personnel serving on the US cruiser Normandy uncovered a shipment of weapons aboard of a sailboat in the Arabian Sea after boarding the vessel "in accordance with worldwide law", the US Central Command said on Thursday.

According to a CENTCOM statement, the dhow was carrying 150 Dehlavieh anti-tank guided missiles, described by USA officials as the Iranian versions of Russia's Kornet anti-tank missiles.

The weapons seized by the USS Normandy were reportedly components "of Iranian design and manufacture", including three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, thermal imaging weapon scopes and other munitions and advanced weapons parts. A video released by the US Navy showed a a high-speed launch from the Normandy approach the dhow as those aboard the traditional Middle Eastern vessel stood with their arms raised in surrender.

Numerous weapons were identical to those seized by the USS Forest Sherman in the Arabian Sea in November.

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The Houthi rebels in Yemen have maintained close ties to Iran, which has provided them with weapons, training and financial support.

An "inter-agency and global effort" is underway to assess the weapons, Fox News reported, with USA partner nations and worldwide organizations invited to inspect the cache.

Despite the rhetoric, former General David Petraeus said it's unlikely Iran would start a war with Israel because of the excessive force Iran would encounter.

Tehran is prohibited by a UN resolution from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside Iran unless approved by the United Nations Security Council; a separate resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who are fighting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government. The assessment of the material will be an interagency and worldwide effort.

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