Washington accuses Tehran of violating arms export ban to Yemen and Afghanistan, says it is ‘relentless’ in its efforts to arm proxies

Washington accuses Tehran of violating arms export ban to Yemen and Afghanistan, says it is ‘relentless’ in its efforts to arm proxies

By Eric Cortellessa

Source: AFP via Times of Israel (TOI)

 

Brian Hook, the US State Department’s special representative for Iran, speaks about the creation of the Iran Action Group at the State Department, in Washington, on August 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON — US officials on Thursday displayed military equipment they said confirms that Iran is increasingly supplying weapons to militants across the Middle East and is continuing its missile program unabated.

At a military hangar in Washington, Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, showed reporters a collection of guns, rockets, drones and other gear. Some of these had been intercepted in the Strait of Hormuz en route to Shia fighters in the region while others had been seized by the Saudis in Yemen, the Pentagon said.

Hook showed images of a Sayyad-2 surface-to-air missiles with the words “The Hunter Missile” in Farsi on its side, which he said was intercepted in Yemen by Saudi Arabia this year.

The advanced weapon, Hook said, was exported to aid the Houthi rebels, marking a violation of a UN resolution ban on exporting weaponry to the besieged country.

“The conspicuous Farsi markings are Iran’s way of saying they don’t mind being caught violating US resolutions,” Hook said. He added that the material shows Tehran’s “relentless commitment to put even more weapons into even more of hands of even more of its proxies.”

Hook also showed reporters a display that included anti-tank missile systems that Iran was exporting to Yemen and Afghanistan, which he said revealed that the Islamic Republic’s intention to “undermine regional instability has expanded.”

The US special envoy recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, when he visited Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

According to an Axios report, Israeli officials told him in meetings they were incensed that the International Atomic Energy Agency was not looking into findings Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released over the summer that revealed the extent to which Iran has tried to build a nuclear arsenal.

Hook reportedly said the administration would pressure the agency to look into the disclosures, with State Department officials saying that America’s new ambassador to the IAEA, Jackie Wolcott, would “work aggressively to make sure the IAEA seriously addresses all information provided by Israel, the US and other countries regarding the Iranian nuclear program.”

Hook’s publicizing an intelligence finding that was the result of US-Saudi cooperation also comes amid controversy over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and an inflamed debate over America’s oldest ally in the Middle East.

Israel has long accused Iran of trying to destabilize the region. Iran has repeatedly denied these allegations.

Hook on Thursday stressed that Iran’s missile exports were increasing the possibility of a larger conflagration.

“The Iranian threat is growing, and we are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to act,” Hook said. “We are one missile attack away from regional conflict.”