US naval forces in the Middle East have intercepted a fishing trawler smuggling more than 50 tons (45 tonnes) of ammunition rounds, fuses, and propellants for rockets in the Gulf of Oman along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen, the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) said in a recent press release.
US Navy personnel operating from expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller discovered the illicit cargo during a flag verification boarding on Thursday, December 1. This marks the US Fifth Fleet’s second major illegal weapons seizure within a month.
Personnel from Lewis B. Puller found more than one million rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, 25,000 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition, nearly 7,000 proximity fuses for rockets, and over 2,100 kilograms of propellant used to launch rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) on board the stateless vessel.
The direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to the Houthis in Yemen violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2216 and international law, NAVCENT added.
US Fifth Fleet previously intercepted a fishing vessel illegally shipping lethal aid from Iran to Yemen on November 8. The US Coast Guard cutter John Scheuerman and the guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans intercepted the vessel in the Gulf of Oman.
On this earlier vessel, US forces discovered more than 70 tons (63 tonnes) of ammonium perchlorate, a powerful oxidiser commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel as well as explosives.
The search also found more than 100 tons (90 tonnes) of urea fertiliser. Urea is a chemical compound with agricultural applications that is also known for use as an explosive precursor.
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