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Tehran denies seizure of Iranian weapons shipment to Yemeni rebels

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Musavi (Student News Agency/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran has rejected a U.S. claim that a boat carrying Iranian weapons to Huthi rebels in Yemen had been seized, saying the “baseless” accusation was aimed at extending a UN arms embargo on Tehran.

“Lying, accusations, and spreading hatred are key elements of America’s foreign policy,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said on July 9, according to state television.

Musavi’s comments come a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States and unidentified “partner” forces intercepted a vessel off Yemen’s coast on June 28 that was carrying Iranian weapons to the Huthis.

The cargo included 200 rocket-propelled grenades, more than 1,700 assault rifles, 21 surface-to-air and land-attack missiles, and several anti-tank missiles, Pompeo said.

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The top U.S. diplomat also reiterated his call for the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October, saying: “No serious person can possibly believe Iran will use any weapon it receives for peaceful ends.”

Musavi accused Washington of “trying to provide excuses to continue their maximum pressure on Iran” and extend the arms embargo on the country.

Iran-aligned Shi’ite Huthi rebels have been fighting the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi, which is backed by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally.

Tehran denies it is providing financial and military support to the Huthis.

On July 9, the Saudi-led coalition claimed it had destroyed two explosive-laden remote-controlled boats in the Red Sea that were allegedly launched by Huthi rebels.

The boats were prepared to carry out “imminent hostile and terrorist acts” in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait and the southern Red Sea, according to a statement cited by Saudi state media.