Update: Iran’s deputy foreign minister said the Iranian humanitarian aid ship will be inspected by the United Nations in Djibouti before it proceeds to Yemen.
A ship the Iranians say is delivering humanitarian aid to Yemen may be attacked by the US military.
The cargo ship, known as “Iran Shahed,” is approaching Yemen in the company of two Iranian military escort vessels, the “Vosper” and “Bandar Abbas.”
The Pentagon believes the Iran Shahed may be carrying weapons to Houthi rebels in violation of a United Nations arms embargo.
It has dispatched the amphibious US helicopter carrier “Iwo Jima” to surveil the transport.
The US has yet to say if it will attempt to prevent the delivery and attack the Iranian vessels.
US officials also insist the Iranians are using the shipment for “propaganda purposes.” They believe there are ”international observers” aboard the Iranian cargo ship prepared to document any attempt to board and search the Iranian vessel only to find no weapons on board, NBC News reports.
The United Nations insists all international aid to the people of Yemen must first be inspected in nearby Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa on the Gulf of Aden.
Djibouti is home to the US African Command at Camp Lemonnier, where the Combined Joint Task Force is stationed, and also serves as an outpost for USAID and the CIA’s Arabic-language programming through Voice of America.
The US has equipped the Saudi military with billions of dollars in advanced American-made weapons which are being used by the Kingdom to attack the Houthis.
In January the Congressional Research Service reported that US arms sales to Saudi Arabia have reached more than $90 billion and include war planes, armored vehicles, missiles and bombs.
Earlier this month Human Rights Watch said the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster munitions supplied by the United States in airstrikes against Houthi forces.
In 2008 the Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty outlawed all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
In April US officials said they expanded assistance to the coalition, including providing sensitive intelligence data that will allow the Saudis to target the Houthi more effectively in a war that has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands since March.
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