Pompeo calls for action after Iran’s arms for Houthis seized

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants action on Iran. (AP)
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The seized arms shipment. (Twitter)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Pompeo calls for action after Iran’s arms for Houthis seized

  • Yemen seeks tougher sanctions against regime

AL-MUKALLA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded action against the Tehran regime after the US Navy seized an Iranian weapons shipment bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen.

A US Navy warship seized weapons believed to be of Iranian “design and manufacture,” including 150 anti-tank guided missiles and three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, the American military has said.

The military said the guided-missile cruiser Normandy boarded a dhow, a traditional sailing vessel, in the Arabian Sea on Sunday.

“The weapons seized include 150 ‘Dehlavieh’ anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs,” the statement said.

“Other weapons components seized aboard the dhow were of Iranian design and manufacture and included three Iranian surface-to-air missiles,” it said.

The military said that the weapons seized on Sunday were “identical” to those seized by another US warship in November.

Pompeo wrote on Twitter: “The US Navy interdicted 358 Iranian-made missiles + other weapons components on their way to the Houthis in Yemen. This is another example of the world’s largest state sponsor of terror the Islamic Republic of Iran continuing to defy the UN Security Council,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter. 

“The world must reject Iran’s violence and act now to renew the expiring UN arms embargo on Iran,” Pompeo said. 

The weapons are currently in US custody, and partner nations have been invited to inspect the cache.

“Those weapons were determined to be of Iranian origin and assessed to be destined for the Houthis in Yemen, which would be in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution that prohibits the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of weapons to the Houthis,” CENTCOM said.

Yemen’s government has demanded the international community impose tougher sanctions on the Iranian regime over the arms shipment. 

Yemen’s Minister of Information, Mummar Al-Aryani, said that Iranian arms shipments to Houthi fighters have greatly contributed to the destabilization of the country and the deaths of hundreds of Yemenis. 

“We welcome the announcement by the US Central Command that the US navy seized an Iranian arms ship on its way to Houthi militia,” Al-Aryani said via Twitter on Thursday.

The minister called on the international community to impose more sanctions on Iran and pressure the country to stop shipping arms to the rebels.

Houthi militia have used Iranian arms to expand military operations and kill civilians, he added.

“We urge the international community and the UN Security Council to impose deterrent sanctions on the Tehran regime and exert pressure to (halt) arms and exports smuggling to Houthis,” he said.

Yemen’s latest accusations come shortly after the US announced that it had seized a suspected Iranian weapons shipment in the Arabian Sea en route to Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Even before the current conflict started in late 2014, consecutive Yemeni governments accused Iran of giving military, financial and technical support to the rebels, helping them to seize control of the entire country in early 2015.

Iran stepped up its arms shipments to the Houthis after 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition intervened militarily in Yemen to restore the power of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Arms shipments have been intercepted at sea or while crossing government-controlled areas on land.

Backed by massive military aid from the Saudi-led coalition, Yemeni government forces have seized control of key seaports on the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea that are thought to be entry points for arms smuggling.

The coalition has strengthened Yemeni coast guard forces and equipped them with fast boats to combat smuggling of arms and drugs.

Last week the coast guard authority in Yemen’s eastern Mahra governorate took delivery of several armed boats from the Saudi-led coalition. Mahra Gov. Rajeh Bakreet said the boats will help the coast guard in the fight against smuggling.

Separately, the Houthis have dropped a threat to impose a tax on aid, in a significant step toward resolving a crisis that has jeopardized the world’s biggest humanitarian operation.

UN leaders and aid groups held crunch talks in Brussels on Thursday to consider scaling back or suspending the delivery of vital supplies to millions of people at risk of starvation.

Houthi leaders killed

Iran-backed Houthi rebels have arranged several funeral processions for military officers killed in fighting with government forces or in strikes by Saudi-led coalition warplanes.

Last week, the Houthi version of the official Saba news agency said the rebel group was mourning the deaths of Col. Abdul Latef Saleh, Col. Maeen Abdullah, Col. Abdul Badae Al-Houthi and several other commanders killed in fighting.

More than 100 Houthis fighters, including senior field commanders, are believed have died since early last month when fighting intensified following a Houthi drone and missile attack that killed more than 110 soldiers and civilians in Marib.


Iran nuclear deal commission to meet in Vienna

Updated 54 min 8 sec ago

Iran nuclear deal commission to meet in Vienna

  • Meeting comes as the European parties try to find a way to persuade Iran to come back into line
  • Tehran would be prepared to move back toward the deal if Europe provides ‘meaningful’ economic benefits

BRUSSELS: The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on Wednesday, the EU’s diplomatic service announced, after Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute process over Iran’s successive pullbacks.
The office of EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell — who is tasked with convening the commission under the dispute mechanism — said the get-together would be chaired on his behalf by senior official Helga Schmid.
The meeting comes as the European parties try to find a way to persuade Iran to come back into line with the deal after Tehran made a series of steps away in protest at the US pulling out and reimposing sanctions.
The 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief has been slowly crumbling since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018, describing the accord signed by his predecessor Barack Obama as a bad deal.
The EU has led efforts to try to save the deal, arguing that it is vital for international security, but after repeated warnings over Iran’s moves, Germany, Britain and France triggered the dispute process on January 14.
In its last announcement, Tehran said it would no longer observe limits on the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium. It was its fifth step away from the deal since Trump’s pullout.
Borrell has said he believes all the countries still in the deal — which also include Russia and China — are determined to save the accord.
Western diplomats recognize it is highly unlikely Iran will heed calls to come back into full compliance without substantial concessions in return — such as an end to US sanctions or Europe taking measures to offset their economic impact.
Instead they hope to use the dispute process, which can be strung out for quite some time, to convince Iran not to take any more moves away from the deal, giving space for back-channel diplomacy aimed at bringing Washington and Tehran back into alignment.
At a major international security conference in Munich earlier this month, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would be prepared to move back toward the deal if Europe provides “meaningful” economic benefits.
Crucially, Iran has said it will continue to cooperate with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which carries out regular detailed inspections on the ground.
Europe has set up a special trading mechanism called Instex to try to enable legitimate humanitarian trade with Iran, but it has yet to complete any transactions and Tehran regards it as inadequate.
The renewed US sanctions have almost entirely isolated Iran from the international financial system, driven away oil buyers and plunged the country into a severe recession.