The United States Navy says it has seized a fishing trawler that was attempting to smuggle more than 50 tons of ammunition, including more than 1 million bullet rounds, thousands of rocket fuse bolts, and large quantities of propellant for rocket-propelled grenades, in the Gulf of Oman.
The “illicit cargo” was discovered on December 1 “during a flag verification boarding” and was the second major weapons seizure along a maritime route from Iran to war-torn Yemen, according to a US Navy Fifth Fleet statement Saturday.
The US navy issued a statement asserting that the direct or indirect supplying, selling, or transferring of weapons to the Houthis in Yemen violates UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law.
The vessel was seized on November 8 after being found to be transporting ammonium perchlorate, a substance used in rocket and missile fuel production, as well as explosives. Urea fertilizer, a substance used in agriculture but also used in explosives, was found to have 100 tonnes of urea fertilizer.
Admiral Brad Cooper of the US said Iran was behind the latest shipment.
The statement said that this significant interdiction shows that Iran’s illegal transfer of lethal aid and destabilizing behavior continues.
Iran is said to be arming Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who captured Sanaa in 2014. The US and Saudi Arabia are accusing Iran of providing weapons to the group.
Tehran has denied the allegation; Iran has previously asserted that it backs the Houthis politically but denies providing the group with weapons.
Hundreds of thousands have been killed in Yemen’s war, which has pitted Houthis against a Saudi-led coalition. The country is teetering on the brink of starvation.
Fighting has largely subsided since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire came into effect in April. The truce expired in October, but fighting has largely remained at bay.
Houthi rebels and Iran’s government failed to issue an immediate response to the attack.