The British Navy seized fins of anti-tank missiles and ballistic missile assemblies during a raid on a small boat headed from Iran to Yemen, officials said Thursday, the latest such seizure in the Gulf of Oman. The seizure by the Royal Navy comes after other seizures by French and US forces in the region as Western powers step up their pressure on Iran, which has now enriched uranium to near weapons-grade levels. It comes even as regional and international powers try to put an end to years of war in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, and arm Russia in its war on Ukraine.
The British Ministry of Defense said the raid was carried out on February 23 after US aircraft detected a small boat coming from Iran, with a helicopter from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Lancaster following the ship. The boat tried to re-enter Iranian territorial waters, but was stopped before it could.
Inside the boat, British troops found Russian 9M133 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles, known in Iran as “Dehlavieh”, the US Navy’s Middle East-based 5th Fleet and the British Navy said. Those weapons have been seen in other seizures suspected to be from Iran and bound for Yemen. There were also small fins on board that the US Navy identified as jet vanes for intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Iranian components have helped build a missile arsenal for Yemen’s Houthi militias, who have held the country’s capital Sanaa since 2014.
A UN resolution bans arms transfers to Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis. Despite physical evidence, numerous seizures, and expert testimony, Tehran has long denied supplying weapons to the militants.