London – Iranian and western sources uncovered Tuesday that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have started using a new route across the Gulf to transfer weapons to their Houthi allies in Yemen.
“Parts of missiles, launchers and drugs are smuggled into Yemen via Kuwaiti waters. The route sometimes is used for transferring cash as well,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters.
The official added that “what is especially smuggled recently, or to be precise in the past six months, are parts of missiles that cannot be produced in Yemen.”
The sources also told the news agency that “using this new route, Iranian ships transfer equipment to smaller vessels at the top of the Gulf, where they face less scrutiny,” adding that the transshipments take place in Kuwaiti waters and in nearby international shipping lanes.
A second senior Iranian official said “the volume of the activity, I don’t call it a trade, is not very large. But it is a safe route.”
He added that smaller Iranian ports are being used for the activity as major ports might attract attention.
Asked whether Iran’s IRGC was involved, the second official said: “No activity goes ahead in the Gulf without the IRGC being involved. This activity involves a huge amount of money as well as transferring equipment to Iranian-backed groups in their fight against their enemies.”
A third senior Iranian official also confirmed the shipment activity and pointed to IRGC involvement.
The western sources said consignments were transported from smaller Iranian ports across the sea lanes near Kuwait, which is 100 nautical miles from Iran.
They said that to avoid detection, the mainly Iranian-flagged vessels switch off their identification transponders, sometimes for days.
“They rendezvous with other ships or drop supplies close to buoys, so the consignments can be recovered for onward transport,” the sources said.