UN experts who travelled to Saudi Arabia to inspect fragments of a missile fired from Yemen last month have found a possible link to an Iranian manufacturer, a confidential document suggested today. Saudi Arabia and the United States have accused Iran of supplying weapons to Yemen’s Huthi rebels who fired a missile intercepted near Riyadh airport on November 4. Weapons supplies to the Huthis would be in violation of a UN arms embargo on Yemen and of a ban on weapons sales by Iran. The UN panel of experts travelled to Riyadh last month to inspect the components of missiles fired in May, July and more recently on November 4 and reported to the Security Council on their findings.
The panel wrote that a component recovered from the impact point of the November 4 missile attack was “marked with a logo similar to that of the Sahid Begheri Industrial Group” which is “a subsidiary of the Iranian Aerospace Industries Organisation.” In a letter sent to Iran on November 24, the panel requested information on the individuals and companies to which the Sahid Begheri Industrial Group exported the missile component.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley last month called for international action against Iran over the missile attacks from Yemen against Saudi Arabia, which Riyadh has described as a “direct aggression”. Haley cited information supplied by Saudi Arabia showing that a missile fired in July was an Iranian Qiam and that this weapon was not present in Yemen before the conflict. Iran has repeatedly denied that it is supplying the Huthis with arms. Earlier this week, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi denied that Iran has “any military connection with Yemen”, although Tehran says it supports the Shiite Huthis politically.
The coalition imposed a blockade of Yemen’s air and sea ports and borders after the missile was fired at Riyadh, citing concerns that weapons were being smuggled into Yemen. While the coalition has eased the blockade to allow some deliveries of humanitarian aid, the United Nations maintains that it needs full access to deliver lifesaving food, medicine and fuel. The UN has warned that unless the blockade is lifted, Yemen will face “the largest famine the world has seen for decades”.
Some supplies have been allowed by the coalition to reach rebel-held Sanaa and the Saleef Red Sea port, also in Huthi hands. But little aid has entered through the port of Hodeida, the main conduit for UN-supervised deliveries of food and medicine. The Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile. Coalition air strikes have faced repeated international criticism over civilian casualties.