UN experts say weapons seized in the Arabian Sea confirm that Tehran is exporting weapons to Yemen, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The United Nations has found thousands of weapons recently seized in the Arabian Sea likely to come from a single port in Iran, proving that Tehran exports weapons to Yemen and elsewhere, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Yemen has been plagued by war since 2014, pitting Iran-backed Houthi rebels against the internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led military force.
Referring to a confidential report by a UN Security Council panel of experts on Yemen, the Journal on Saturday wrote that boats and land transport were used to smuggle weapons manufactured in Russia, China and Iran into Yemen.
The weapons included rocket launchers, machine guns and sniper rifles, which the U.S. Navy has seized in recent months.
“The mix of arms indicates a general supply pattern, probably of government shares, which includes dhows [boats] in the Arabian Sea, which transports arms to Yemen and Somalia, ”the report reads.
In 2015, the UN imposed a arms embargo on the Houthis.
The United States as well as ally Saudi Arabia – which leads the military coalition that supports the Yemeni government – have long accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with weapons, a charge that Tehran denies.
Iranian authorities did not immediately respond to the report. A Houthi official in Yemen denied this, calling allegations of Iranian arms smuggling “an illusion”.
“Seaports and airports are closed, so how can these alleged weapons reach us?” Nasr al-Din Amir, the deputy head of the Houthi’s Ministry of Information, was quoted by the Journal.
Boats used to transport the weapons left over from the southeastern Iranian port of Jask, the UN report found, based on interviews with the boat crew and data from the navigation instruments on board.
In recent months, fighting in Yemen has seen Saudi-led coalition forces carry out airstrikes on the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
Riyadh said his 2015 intervention in Yemen was aimed at preventing an Iranian ally from taking power on his doorstep.
The UN estimates Yemen’s war directly or indirectly killed 377 000 people. More than 80 percent of the population of about 30 million need humanitarian aid.