US Naval Forces Snag Large Shipment of Explosive Material en Route to Yemen From Iran

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On Tuesday, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs announced that, a week prior, the U.S. 5th Fleet intercepted a shipment of explosive material in the Gulf of Oman.

MANAMA, Bahrain – On Nov. 8, U.S. 5th Fleet intercepted a fishing vessel in the Gulf of Oman smuggling lethal aid, including a large quantity of explosive material, from Iran to Yemen.

U.S. Coast Guard ship USCGC John Scheuerman (WPC 1146) and guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) interdicted the vessel as it transited international waters. Patrol coastal ship USS Hurricane (PC 3) and Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians from U.S. 5th Fleet’s Task Force 56 also assisted during a weeklong effort to fully search the vessel and verify the type of material found.

This was no small shipment either. According to CENTCOM, the discovery included more than 70 tons of ammonium perchlorate, as well as 100 tons of urea fertilizer.

Explosive material intercepted in the Gulf of Oman by U.S. Naval forces, 11/8/22 (Credit: U.S. Navy)

Ammonium perchlorate is “a powerful oxidizer commonly used to make rocket and missile fuel as well as explosives.” Urea is also commonly used in explosives.

Following the seizure, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said:

“This was a massive amount of explosive material, enough to fuel more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles depending on the size. The unlawful transfer of lethal aid from Iran does not go unnoticed. It is irresponsible, dangerous and leads to violence and instability across the Middle East.”

Some additional background from the AP:

The Navy said the amount of ammonium perchlorate discovered could fuel more than a dozen medium-range ballistic missiles, the same weapons Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have used to target both forces allied to the country’s internationally recognized government and the Saudi-led coalition that supports them.

The apparent rearming effort comes as Iran has threatened Saudi Arabia, the United States and other nations over the monthslong protests calling for the overthrow the Islamic Republic’s theocracy. Tehran blames foreign powers — rather than its own frustrated population — for fomenting the protests, which have seen at least 344 people killed and 15,820 people arrested amid a widening crackdown on dissent there.

Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) commander added:

“Alongside our partner forces, CENTCOM is committed to security and stability of the region and to deterring the illegal and destabilizing flow of lethal material into the region over land, in the air, and the sea.”

Per CNN, “The vessel was sunk on November 13 in the Gulf of Oman after US forces determined the vessel was a hazard to navigation for commercial shipping.”

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