Iran may have inadvertently donated thousands of assault rifles and thousands of tons of ammunition to the Ukrainian war effort after the U.S. Navy confiscated the weapons from suspected smuggling ships in the Middle East.
The U.S. military is considering sending the weapons along to Ukraine after confiscating them in the Gulf of Oman. The weapons include 5,000 assault rifles, 1.6 million rounds of ammunition, a handful of anti-tank missiles, and over 7,000 proximity fuses, according to The Wall Street Journal. The potential new source of military aid comes as Ukraine’s Western allies sound the alarm over ammunition expenditure.
“The war in Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday. “The current rate of Ukraine’s ammunition expenditure is many times higher than our current rate of production. This puts our defense industries under strain.”
The U.S. and allied navies have seized the weapons in a series of operations in the Gulf of Oman, disrupting Iranian efforts to smuggle weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
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The U.S. Navy seized 2,000 assault rifles when boarding a suspected smuggling vessel in early January. French special forces seized an additional 3,000 assault rifles in a joint operation in late January.
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The U.S. Navy routinely patrols common smuggling routes in the Gulf of Oman. Iranian vessels smuggling weapons to Yemen must travel east through the gulf before heading south to Yemen.
International law and the U.N. Security Council ban the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Ukraine has requested more and more aid as Russia renews its ground offensive. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will hit the one-year mark next week. The U.S. has delivered tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment and other aid throughout the 12 months of fighting.
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President Biden’s administration has vowed to continue sending aid to Ukraine for “as long as it takes.”