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Iran rejects UK accusation that it tried to smuggle advanced weaponry into Yemen

After Britain says arms shipment seized earlier this year, Tehran calls claim ‘baseless,’ accuses the UK of being complicit in Yemen war

Illustrative: An Iranian Revolutionary Guards warship named after slain Guard naval commander Abdollah Roudaki, sails into Iran's southern territorial waters in a photo released by the Guards, November 19, 2020. (Sepahnews via AP)
Illustrative: An Iranian Revolutionary Guards warship named after slain Guard naval commander Abdollah Roudaki, sails into Iran's southern territorial waters in a photo released by the Guards, November 19, 2020. (Sepahnews via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran on Friday rejected Britain’s claim that it had seized advanced weaponry being smuggled from Iran towards Yemen, the Iranian foreign ministry said.

Britain’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said one of its warships on patrol in the Gulf earlier this year seized the arms shipment, which contravened a UN Security Council resolution to prevent support for Yemen’s Houthis rebels.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani rejected Britain’s claim as “baseless,” accusing the UK of being complicit in the war in Yemen.

London’s past weapons sales to Saudi Arabia gave it no “moral authority to make a claim against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Kanani said.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to back Yemen’s internationally recognized government after the Iran-backed Houthis seized the capital Sanaa the year before.

“By continuously selling advanced weapons to the self-proclaimed military coalition against the defenseless people of Yemen, Britain has been a partner in the war and aggression against Yemen,” Kanani continued.

Forces loyal to Yemen’s Houthi rebels take part in a military parade marking the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in their country, in the capital Sana’a, on March 31, 2022. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP)

Britain’s Defense Ministry said the HMS Montrose intercepted speedboats carrying surface-to-air missiles and engines for land-attack cruise missiles while on routine patrols on two occasions in January and February.

The ministry added that the types of cruise missiles seized are regularly used by Houthi rebels in Yemen to strike targets in Saudi Arabia.

Those models were fired into Abu Dhabi in January, in an attack that killed three civilians, it said.

Iran has widely been reported to offer material support to the Houthi rebels during the seven-year war, a claim rejected by Tehran.

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