The United States is seeking to keep more than 1 million rounds of ammunition the US Navy seized in December as it was in transit from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to militants in Yemen, the Justice Department said on Friday.
The United States disrupted a major operation by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps “to smuggle weapons of war into the hands of a militant group in Yemen,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
He added: “The Justice Department is now seeking the forfeiture of those weapons, including over 1 million rounds of ammunition and thousands of proximity fuses for rocket-propelled grenades.”
US naval forces on December 1 intercepted a fishing trawler smuggling more than 50 tons of ammunition rounds, fuses and propellants for rockets in the Gulf of Oman along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen, the Navy said.
They found more than 1 million rounds of 7.62mm ammunition; 25,000 rounds of 12.7mm ammunition; nearly 7,000 proximity fuses for rockets; and over 2,100 kilograms of propellant used to launch rocket propelled grenades, it said.
The forfeiture action is part of a larger government investigation into an Iranian weapons-smuggling network that supports military action by the Houthi movement in Yemen and the Iranian regime’s campaign of terrorist activities throughout the region, the Justice Department said.
The forfeiture complaint alleges a sophisticated scheme by the IRGC to clandestinely ship weapons to entities that pose grave threats to US national security.
Testifying on Thursday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Michael Kurilla, who leads the US Central Command (CENTCOM), said the US has intercepted five major weapons shipments from Iran to Yemen in the last 90 days.