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Yemen demands Iran explanation on arms shipment

In this photo taken on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, released by the Yemeni Defense Ministry, Yemeni Interior Minister Major-General Abdul-Qader Qahtan, left, and Chief of the National Security Agency Major-General Ali al-Ahmadi, second left, inspect weapons unloaded from an Iranian ship in Aden, Yemen. (AP Photo/Yemeni Defense Ministry)

SANAA: Yemen on Sunday demanded an explanation from Tehran over an Iran-linked arms shipment seized last month and rejected interference in its internal affairs, state news agency Saba reported.

"The Yemeni government will not allow interference in its internal affairs from any party, or for its territories to become a site for proxy wars," Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told Iran's ambassador to Sanaa, Mahmud Hassan Zada.

The foreign minister also "demanded an explanation from Iran on the vessel," intercepted by Yemeni coast guard in coordination with the US navy on January 23 in the Arabian Sea.

The Jihan II was carrying rockets and explosives, which authorities in Sanaa say came from Iran, although Tehran denies any involvement.

Yemen is still investigating the shipment whose eight-strong Yemeni crew are being questioned.

A security official last week said the vessel came from Iran and that the arms "were destined for the Huthi rebels in Saada," the stronghold of Shiite fighters in northern Yemen.

United Nations sanctions experts are investigating Sanaa's claims, according to New York-based diplomats.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has praised the Yemeni government for its "successful and significant interdiction" of the vessel and its decision to alert the UN Security Council.

"These weapons are clearly designed to cause significant damage with the highest possible number of casualties and are a threat to both Yemen and the region," Nuland said.

 

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