US Naval Forces seized a large amount of explosive materials from a fishing boat heading to Yemen from Iran last week.
According to the US navy’s 5th Fleet, the vessel was intercepted by the US Coast Guard ship USCGC John Scheuerman and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans while it was travelling along a route often used for transporting weapons to the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen.
In a statement, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command, the US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, stressed that the “unlawful transfer of lethal aid from Iran does not go unnoticed”. He called it “irresponsible, dangerous and leads to violence and instability across the Middle East.”
During their raid on the vessel, the naval forces “discovered more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel as well as explosives.” This was reportedly the first time the material has been intercepted.
They also caught over 100 tonnes of urea fertiliser, a chemical compound which can be used to make explosives. Altogether, the materials were enough to fuel more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles, which would likely have been used to strike targets throughout Yemen and the other surrounding Gulf states.
Five days later, US forces sank the vessel after they determined it a hazard for commercial shipping. The boat’s four crew members were returned to Yemen yesterday.