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On Thursday, the UK announced it was withdrawing “complicated” Iranian missiles from smugglers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this year, which officials cited as evidence that Tehran is supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Assisted by US NavyThe Royal Navy HMS Montrose completed two separate seizures from smugglers operating speedboats off the coast of Iran on 2 January. 28 and 25 February.
In a direct violation of the 2015 arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council, smugglers were found to be carrying “dozens of parcels” of surface-to-air missiles and ground-launched cruise missile engines.
“This is the first time that a British warship has intercepted a ship carrying such sophisticated weapons from Iran,” the statement said. British embassy in Washington, D.C., the statement said.
In both cases, A Wildcat helicopter, launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Montrose and scanning the area as part of a routine inspection, spotted ships moving away from the Iranian coastline.
After pursuing ships with air support from a MH-60 Seahawk helicopter from the US Navy destroyer USS Gridley, British Marines approached the ships in rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) before inspecting them.
“Dozens of parcels of advanced weapons have been located, confiscated and returned to the USS Montrose,” the embassy said, adding that 358 surface-to-air missiles and 351 cruise missiles were found to attack ground targets.
The British embassy also noted that ground-launched cruise missiles with a range of more than 620 miles are regularly used by Houthi rebels in strikes against Saudi Arabia.
The rocket was used in January. 17 February 2022 Abu Dhabi attack that killed three civilians.
“These bans demonstrate the Royal Navy’s professionalism and commitment to bringing stability to this region,” Claire Thompson, commander of HMS Montrose, said after the hijacking. “I am extremely proud of my crew – the Royal Navy sailors, aircrew and Marines involved in this effort and the significant positive impact they are having in maintaining international rules-based maritime order.”
A panel of experts, invited by the UK Department of Defense, examined weapons seized under a UN Security Council resolution and received technical information from British military intelligence analysts.
The US and UK have said they are committed to working together to stop Iran’s illegal arms smuggling into Yemen, which is the site of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The Eight Years’ War killed approximately 377,000 people and displaced more than 4.3 million Yemenis internally.