The US government on Thursday released photos of missile parts which military officials claim to be of Iranian origin and allegedly meant to be delivered to Yemen.
Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran and a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, displayed the photos during an official briefing on Thursday.
We've got our first pics of the Yemen missile seizure. Hook says land attack and anti ship cruise missiles, SAMs, and ATGMs. Pics on the right look like Dehlaviyeh anti-tank missile tubes (Iranian Kornets) pic.twitter.com/wM5zU3hTyL— Adam Rawnsley (@arawnsley) December 5, 2019
Despite previously intercepting weapons, officials claim that this is the first case of an interception of missile components of such sophistication, which were seized while in the process of being delivered to Yemen, which has been in a state of civil war since 2015.
⚠️Pictures of advanced missile parts heading for Yemen from Iran published by US defense department pic.twitter.com/zl8l5I5AQY— Iranian Observatory 🦀 (@IranConflictOBS) December 5, 2019
Arms sales to Yemen have been banned by the UN Security Council since 2015.
The news comes following statements by officials on Wednesday that a US Navy warship had stumbled upon a “significant cache” of alleged Iranian missile parts meant to arm the armed Houthi political opposition faction against Saudi Arabia in the conflict
A Navy boat and a US Coast Guard boarding team discovered the weapons while operating in the northern Arabian Sea last week. Officials say that the USS Forrest Sherman, a part of the Harry S. Truman strike group, sighted a small wooden boat with no flag to indicate its country of origin.
The US claims that Iran is arming and secretly smuggling weapons to the Houthis, who are battling the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.
Saudi Arabia is the recipient of a significant percentage of US total weapon sales, and has entered the war on claims that it is countering the expanding Iranian influence in the region.
The Pentagon has also sent 14,000 additional troops to the region since May. The war is currently described by the UN as the "worst humanitarian crisis" in the world.
The US accuses Iran of using the Houthi faction as a means to strengthen Tehran's grip over the region. Iran has denied accusations that it is behind Houthi operations, including the attack on the Saudi state-owned Aramco oil company in September.