DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Shiite rebels on Sunday claimed they had launched a missile toward an under-construction nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates in the first such strike toward the country. Emirati officials denied the claim.
The rebels claimed they targeted the $20 billion Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi’s far western desert.
The first of its four reactors, being built in the UAE’s near its border with Saudi Arabia, is scheduled to come online in 2018.
The UAE’s state-run WAM news agency disputed the Shiite rebel account in a report Sunday that said the country also had air-defense systems capable of protecting it.
Sunday’s claim comes amid heavy fighting in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, between the Shiite rebels known as Houthis and some of their former allies led by Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Since the recent clashes erupted, the Saudi coalition has been targeting the Houthis and backing Saleh’s camp to control Sanaa. The UAE is an active member of the coalition and its forces have mostly focused on securing the southern region of Yemen.
At least 100 Emirati soldiers have been killed in the war, which was launched to dislodge the Houthis from Sanaa after they overran the capital and kicked out the internationally-backed Yemeni government from power.
The claim comes as the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition, celebrates its National Day.
On Thursday Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired from war-torn Yemen, state media reported, in the second such attack last month claimed by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The Saudis intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthis at the international airport near Riyadh, on November 4.
Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying the ballistic missile used in that attack, saying the missiles bore “Iranian markings.” The Houthis have denied that.
For its part, Iran long has denied offering any arms to Yemen, though it has backed the Houthis and highlighted the high civilian casualties from the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign of airstrikes.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.