Washington D.C., 27 December 2021 (TDI): The U.S. Navy seizes illegal weapons heading from Iran to Yemen. For that reason, the American Department of State reviewed the event in a press statement.

Illegal weapons seizure details

The US Navy seized more than 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition from a fishing vessel in its 5th Fleet ships. According to Ned Price, a spokesman for the US department, “this ship originated in Iran and was targeting the Houthi militia in Yemen.”

Illegal Houthi weapons seized from a stateless fishing vessel.
Illegal Houthi weapons were seized from a stateless fishing vessel.

He agreed with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command because the vessel transited international waters in a “route historically used to illegally smuggle weapons to the Houthis in Yemen.” That is why they can assess that the ship left Iran to provide armament to the militia.

In this regard, the US patrol boats and the USS Typhoon found the weapons during a flag checking exped led by US Coast Guard personnel. They described that the illicit weapons and ammunition were subsequently transported to the USS O’Kane.

On the ship, the 5 crew members identified themselves as Yemenis, so they will be repatriated. On the other hand, the United States Navy decided to sink the seized ship as it represents a danger to commercial navigation.

US Navy current work in MENA

On the contrary, this is not the first time the US Navy has seized illicit armament. Take, for example, the Bahrain-based US 5th Fleet that seized approximately 8,700 illegal weapons this year.

In this way, the United States Naval forces regularly perform maritime security operations in the region. They seek to ensure the free flow of legitimate trade and disrupt any other illicit activities as the main objective.

USS Monterey (CG 61) seized dozens of illegal weapons
USS Monterey (CG 61) seized dozens of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, sniper rifles, among others

For instance, the US Central command mentioned that the USS Monterey (CG 61), a guided-missile cruiser, seized illegal cargo of advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles. As well as thousands of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were seized during 2021.

Likewise, smugglers commonly transport illegal cargo through the North Arabian Sea. So that the US Navy operations encompass approximately 2.5 million square miles of water around that area. From the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, the critical points for constant supervision are the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the official train of Bab al Mandeb.

Press Statement Key Points Summary

However, in the words of Ned Price, a spokesman for the US department, “the smuggling of weapons from Iran to the Houthis represents a flagrant violation to the UN principles.” According to him, it shows “how malicious Iranian activity is prolonging the war in Yemen.”

In addition, Ned mentioned how Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international security. He said that the Biden administration is committed to countering this threat that is hurting the Yemeni population and diplomatic partners in the country.

In summary, Price pointed to the achievements of the United States Navy in seizing illegal weapons. He also added about how this illicit trade enabled the brutal Houthi offensive against Marib.

“More fighting, whether in Marib or elsewhere, will only bring more suffering,” he said.