The US Navy seized a huge arms shipment in the Arabian Sea last week, reportedly en route from Iran to the Houthis in Yemen. The shipment was on a stateless dhow whose cargo was discovered when the USS Monterey and the US Coast Guard Advanced Interdiction Team (AIT) conducted a routine boarding for flag verification in international waters. Such a check is customary under international law.
What the coast guard team found was a stash of weaponry including advanced Russian-made anti-tank guided missiles, over 3,000 Chinese Type 56 assault rifles, hundreds of PKM machine guns, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
Massive arms shipment captured en route to #Yemen in North Arabian Sea. Absolutely huge quantities of arms including 200+ Sageg RPG, 100+ Chinese/Iranian SVD (Type 85/Hoshdar/Nakhjir-3) 100+ AM-50 Sayyad, ~50 ATGM (9M111M seen) 1000s T56, 200+ Type 80/PKM-T80
— Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) May 8, 2021
Although the source of the shipment and its destination were not confirmed, a US defence official told Associated Press that the weapons, their packaging, and their mode of delivery were similar to numerous others that were confirmed to have been sent from Iran to the Houthis. The official added that interviews with the crew of the USS Monterey had determined the source of the shipment to be Iran.
Following the removal of the arms and the questioning of the dhow's crew, the vessel and those on board were given food and water before being released by the US Navy. The shipment was the latest of many to have been seized by the US Navy in the region.
If proven to have been sent from Iran, the shipment would confirm Tehran's supply of arms to the Houthis, who it is already supporting overtly in the conflict in Yemen. It would also be a significant breach of the ongoing international arms embargo on the country.