The US Navy seized a “cache of weapons and advanced missile components” believed to be of Iranian origin in the northern Arabian Sea, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
US officials said the guided-missile destroyer Forrest Sherman detained a small wooden boat that was not displaying a country flag, and a detachment of Navy and Coast Guard personnel boarded the boat for inspection and found the weapons.
“On November 25, a US warship conducted a flag verification boarding in the Arabian sea in accordance with international law of what was subsequently determined to be a stateless vessel and discovered a cache of weapons and advanced missile components,” Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson said in a statement. “An initial investigation indicates that these advanced missile components are of Iranian origin. A more thorough investigation is underway.”
The small boat was believed to be headed to Yemen, where the missile parts would likely support Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The boat carried dissembled part for anti-ship cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles, air defense missiles, and anti-tank missiles, one official said.
The Associated Press, which was first to report the seizure, said it was the first time that such sophisticated components have been taken en route to the war in Yemen.
Pentagon Denies Sending Additional 14,000 Troops to Mideast
The Pentagon has denied a report that the United States was considering sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday the possible deployment would include “dozens” more ships and double the number of troops added to the US forces in the region since the beginning of this year, citing unidentified US officials.
The WSJ said President Donald Trump could make a decision on the troop deployment as early as this month.
“To be clear, the reporting is wrong. The US is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East,” defense spokeswoman Alyssa Farah wrote on Twitter.
[Sources: AP, ABC News, AFP, Middle East Eye]