US looks to assert control over seized weapons from Iran for second time this year

Conventional weapons, including long arms and anti-tank missiles, and related munitions were seized, all of which were determined to be primarily of either Iranian, Chinese or Russian origin.

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

The US Justice Department filed a forfeiture complaint this week to take control over thousands of weapons seized by the US Navy from Iran to terrorist groups in Yemen, including the Iran-backed Houthis.

More than 9,000 rifles, 284 machine guns, approximately 194 rocket launchers, over 70 anti-tank guided missiles and over 700,000 rounds of ammunition were seized by the US Navy during four interdictions of stateless vessels: two from 2021 and another two from 2023.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“These interdictions led to the discovery and seizure of four large caches of conventional weapons, including long arms and anti-tank missiles, and related munitions – all of which were determined to be primarily of either Iranian, Chinese or Russian origin,” the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday.

This is the second time the US government has filed a forfeiture action this year. In March, the US sought control of over one million rounds of ammunition seized from Iran to Yemen.

The Justice Department said the network of illicit weapons trafficking by sanctioned Iranian entities was supporting military action by the Houthis in Yemen and the Iranian regime’s campaign of terrorist activities throughout the region. “The forfeiture complaint alleges a sophisticated scheme by the IRGC to clandestinely ship weapons to entities that pose grave threats to US national security,” the Justice Department said.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said that Tehran, through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), remained bent on smuggling weapons of war to militant groups in violation of US sanctions and international law.

“As this seizure demonstrates, the Department of Justice will work in lockstep with our US Government partners to deny the Iranian regime the means to undermine our nation’s interest and threaten the security of our people,” Olsen said.

Previous media reports have suggested the US is looking to send seized weapons from Iran to Ukraine.

In January, US and French forces intercepted a vessel with thousands of assault rifles, anti-tank missiles, and 500,000 rounds of ammunition.

US forces have stepped up their efforts to monitor the waters in the region alongside its Gulf and Arab allies.

In December and January, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said they carried out four “significant illicit cargo interdictions,” preventing over 5,000 weapons and 1.6 million rounds of ammunition from reaching Yemen.

According to court documents, CENTCOM forces seized the weapons from a flagless vessel in the Arabian Sea in December. The Justice Department said the seizure included 1.063 million rounds of 7.62mmx54mm ammunition; 24,000 rounds of 12.7mmx99mm ammunition; 6,960 proximity fuses for rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and 2,000 kg of propellant for rocket-propelled grenades.

Read more: New US-led maritime task force established in Middle East

Top Content Trending