British Navy seized Iranian missiles being shipped to Yemen in an operation in the Gulf Oman, according to reports. Iran was apparently shipping the sophisticated missiles to the Houthi rebels when the Royal Navy vessel intercepted the Iranian ship. Al Arabiya reported that the incident took place earlier this year.
The British embassy in the United Arab Emirates said the weapons seized were surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land attack cruise missiles. It was the first time a British naval warship has interdicted a vessel carrying such sophisticated weapons from Iran, the mission said.
"The UK will continue to work in support of an enduring peace in Yemen and is committed to international maritime security so that commercial shipping can transit safely without threat of disruption," said James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces, according to Al Arabiya.
The Houthi rebels in Yemen have launched several attacks against the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the recent years. Some of the missile and drone attacks were aimed at crippling the oil facilities of Saudi giant Aramco.
Iran Denies Arming Houthis
Iran has steadfastly denied arming the Shia rebels of Yemen, but Tehran does have a stake in the political dynamics of Yemen, where a Saudi Arabia-backed regime is engaged in grueling civil war with the Shia rebels.
The Saudi-led allies have not been able to repel the Houthis from Yemen's capital Saana, which they seized in September 2014 after defeating the Saudi-supported regime and sending its leaders into exile.
According to Al Arabiya, the route of the shipment makes it clear that the military contraband was destined for Yemen.
Meanwhile, forensic analysis showed that the seized rocket engines were linked to Iranian-made cruise missiles that have been been used by the Houthis in the war against Saudi Arabia.
Attacks on UAE and Saudi Arabia
In March 2021 Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a missile attack against a Saudi Arabian oil facility in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Earlier in July 2020, a large oil facility in the city of Jizan in southern Saudi Arabia was hit by Yemeni Houthi forces in missile and drone attacks overnight.
In March 2022, Houthi rebels launched missiles and drones targeting two Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia's Jizan and Yanbu, damaging some structures and civilian vehicles.
US Seized Iranian Vessel in 2019
In December 2019, an Iranian ship carrying advanced missile parts was seized in an operation led by the US Navy. "The U.S. navy and navy forces of the Saudi-led Arab coalition had seized an Iranian ship in Yemeni territorial waters, carrying weapons to the Houthi group," an officer in the Yemeni forces said, according to Xinhua. "Parts of Iran-made missiles and various military components were found inside the seized ship," the officer added.
The ship was Iranian and was flying the flag of Iran, the Yemeni forces said, adding that the ship had Iranian crew. US officials also confirmed the confiscation of the Iranian vessel in the northern Arabian Sea.
Tehran has not officially responded following the revelation that British vessels seized weapons shipments from Iran.