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UK reveals Iranian weapon interdictions

A photograph of the weapons found by HMS Montrose, released by the UK MoD, shows a 358 SAM laid out at the front, with the sections for several more behind, and the engines for 351 cruise missiles on the table, rear right. (Crown Copyright)

A Royal Navy frigate seized Iranian weapons from speedboats operated by smugglers earlier this year, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 7 July.

It said the seizures were made by HMS Montrose in international waters south of Iran in the early hours of 28 January and 25 February when the frigate's Wildcat helicopter used its radar to detect small boats moving at speed away from the Iranian coast and identified suspicious cargo onboard. They were then intercepted by Royal Marines using rigid-hull inflatable boats.

“The seized packages were returned to the UK for technical analysis, which revealed that the shipment contained multiple rocket engines for the Iranian-produced 351 land-attack cruise missile and a batch of 358 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs),” it said, adding that the weapons were in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which includes an arms embargo on Yemen.

The 351 is the US designation for a cruise missile that the Yemeni rebel group Ansar Allah (Houthis) calls the Quds and has used several times against targets in Saudi Arabia, while the 358 is the US designation for an unusual type of surface-to-air missile (SAM) that has yet to be unveiled by either Ansar Allah or Iran. Both types have previously been found by the US Navy on dhows smuggling Iranian weapons to Yemen.

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