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Iran: Allegations of smuggling arms to Yemen politically-motivated, meant to mislead global opinion

In this file picture, a ship is docked at the Red Sea port of Hudaydah, Yemen. (Photo by Reuters)

Iran has roundly dismissed Western allegations of smuggling weapons and ammunition to Yemen, stressing that arms exporters and all those who sponsor the siege against the Yemeni nation are in position to comment on the ongoing crisis in the impoverished country.

Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Nasser Kan’ani in a statement on Thursday rejected the claims that French naval forces in January had seized thousands of Iranian-supplied weapons and ammunition headed to Yemen as politically-motivated and meant to misinform the world public opinion.

“The countries that are overtly involved in and directly responsible for the inhumane blockade of Yemeni people though arms sale and providing intelligence to the countries waging a military campaign against the country are in position to level such accusations against others,” Kan’ani stated.

“Instead of persisting in playing blame game and abdicating their responsibilities in imposing the war against the defenseless and oppressed Yemeni people, such states had better put an end to their opportunistic and profit-seeking approach in the brutal onslaught as soon as possible,” the senior Iranian diplomat pointed out.

Officials have told the Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press news agency that a French warship on January 15 stopped a suspected smuggling ship off the Yemeni coast, where the specially trained French team boarded the boat.

On board, the officials claimed, the French military discovered more than 3,000 assault rifles, at least a half million rounds of ammunition and over 20 antitank guided missiles.

The purported operation was reportedly coordinated with the US military.

Iran has on several occasions dismissed Western claims of smuggling arms to Yemen, reaffirming its support for a political solution not a military one to the conflict in the Arab country.

Back on November 17 last year, Iran categorically rejected the US Navy’s claims that the country was trying to smuggle 70 tons of a missile fuel component hidden among bags of fertilizer aboard a ship bound for crisis-stricken Yemen. 

The Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in New York, in a statement, dismissed the allegations as baseless, saying Tehran stands fully committed to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, which imposes an arms embargo on Yemen.

Iran “has not taken any action against the resolution, and is actively cooperating with the sanctions committee formed to oversee the arms embargo,” said the statement, adding that none of the accusations leveled against Iran about arms smuggling to Yemen have been substantiated.

The diplomatic mission further said “Iran is doing its utmost to restore the truce agreement, and facilitate dialogue among Yemeni groups as soon as possible in order to establish peace and stability in Yemen.”

The allegations against Iran come as rights groups have accused French arms makers of war crimes complicity in Yemen.

Back in June 2022, three NGOs filed a lawsuit in a Paris court against French arms producers Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA France for war crimes complicity in Yemen, accusing the companies of having sold weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that were then used against civilians in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015.

The objective was to crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen, and reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition has failed to achieve any of its objectives, leaving hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and spawning the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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