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Yemeni official: UK claims of seizing Iranian weapons ‘nonsense’

The file photo shows supporters of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement in Sana’a, Yemen.  

Yemen’s Deputy Information Minister Fahmi al-Yousefi has dismissed as “nonsense” claims by the British navy and a member of the ousted pro-Saudi government about the seizure of a boat smuggling Iranian weapons off the coast of the Gulf of Oman.

Yousefi made the comment in an exclusive interview with Radio Sputnik on Friday, saying the claims, initially made by the British navy and later echoed by Muammar al-Iryani, Yemeni information minister in ousted government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, reflect the unwillingness of the other side to engage in dialogue and implement what has so far been agreed upon.

“This is also an indication for the preparation of a plan for escalation by Britain and the Western system that impede the path of dialogue and implementation of the agreement,” the Yemeni official said, stressing that, "Al-Iryani's reference to the British Navy is evidence that Britain is illegally present on the Yemeni coasts in the Red Sea."

Yousefi said Britain itself is the one that adopted the recent decision to extend the sanctions on Yemen, which means that Britain is the main player in the game of militarization of the Red Sea.

“There is no evidence for what the British Navy said, otherwise why did Britain not speak directly with Iran,” the Yemeni official added. “These accusations are neither surprising nor new, and we have self-sufficiency in weapons, and we do not need weapons, but rather food and medicine and breaking the blockade, which is intended to continue through these allegations.”

Britain’s Royal Navy claimed on Thursday that an Iranian boat, traveling south from Iran at high speed during the hours of darkness, was intercepted by forces from British frigate HMS Lancaster before it could navigate back to Iranian territorial waters on February 23.

According to the Bahrain-based United States Fifth Fleet, the seizure took place along a route historically used to smuggle weapons to Yemen.

Nasser Kan’ani, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, dismissed the British navy's claims and said the main warmongering countries and the biggest exporters of weapons and equipment to critical zones in the world are “making false claims and spreading fake news” to mislead the global public opinion.

"The countries that have caused the death of [the Yemeni] people and the destruction of Yemen by sending billions of dollars worth of weapons to the [Saudi-led] war coalition cannot exonerate themselves by accusing others," Kan’ani added.

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.

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. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been killed. Yemen is witnessing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis now.

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