The United States has displayed pieces of Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan.
This display is said to be sort of tactic used by President Donald Trump’s administration to pressurise Tehran in order curb its regional activities.
The second presentation of Iranian weapons by the Pentagon, many of which were handed over by Saudi Arabia, coincides with growing concern in Congress over American military support for the Arab coalition in Yemen’s civil war, which has led to a deep humanitarian crisis.
If Iran were found to be shipping arms to Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries, it would be in violation of United Nations resolutions.
U.S. Defense Department had the fragments of weaponry on display and explained how it concluded that they came from Iran.
“We want there to be no doubt across the world that this is a priority for the United States and that it’s in international interest to address it,” said Katie Wheelbarger, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.
The presentation, the second such one in the last year, is part of a government-wide effort to follow through on Trump’s policy to take a far harder line toward Tehran.
He pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions, in part for its “malign” regional activities.
Iran has denied supplying the Houthis in Yemen with such weaponry and described the Pentagon’s previous arms display as totally fabricated.
The Pentagon offered a detailed explanation of why it believed the arms on display came from Iran, noting what it said were Iranian corporate logos on arms fragments and the unique nature of the designs of Iranian weaponry.
The United States acknowledged it could not say precisely when the weapons were transferred to the Houthis, and, in some cases, could not say when they were used.
There was no immediate way to independently verify where the weapons were made or employed. This included a “Sayyad-2” surface-to-air missile, which the Pentagon said had been interdicted by the Saudi government in early 2018 en route to Houthi militants in Yemen.
The Pentagon cited a corporate logo of an Iranian defense firm in the warhead section, which was not displayed, and writing in Farsi along the missile as evidence that it was Iranian.
A United States defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the Pentagon did not know if the Houthis had actually used this type of missile before.
Under a U.N. resolution that enshrines the Iran nuclear deal with world powers, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country unless approved by the U.N. Security Council.
A separate United Nations resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders. The United States has long accused Iran of providing weapons to Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
In October, Washington targeted two individuals linked to the Al-Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard for providing material and financial support to the Taliban.
The Pentagon displayed a number of “Fajr” rockets that it said had been provided to the Taliban.
It said they were Iranian because of the unique markings on the rockets and the paint scheme, along with the markings on them.