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US hands over weapons and ammunition confiscated from Iran to Ukraine: what's going on

Confiscated Iranian weapons intended for Yemeni Houthis. Source: US NAVY

In early April, the United States handed over thousands of assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, and anti-tank grenade launchers to Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers also received more than half a million rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

The transferred weapons were seized in early January 2023 from a ship used by Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps militants to transfer them to Yemeni Houthis: the vessel was intercepted in the Gulf of Oman by the US Navy. "Militarnyi" writes about the details with reference to the US Central Command (CENTCOM).

According to CENTCOM, the weapons were transferred to Ukraine on April 4. The Ukrainian military received more than 5,000 assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, and anti-tank grenade launchers, as well as more than 500,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.

"This is enough material to equip one Ukrainian brigade with small arms. These weapons will help Ukraine defend itself against Russia's invasion," the statement said.

The weapons in question are those that the IRGC transferred to the Houthis in Yemen in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216. To conceal the supply of weapons, they were transported on civilian ships. The US military intercepted one such ship in the Gulf of Oman on January 15, 2023.

US hands over weapons and ammunition confiscated from Iran to Ukraine: what's going on
US hands over weapons and ammunition confiscated from Iran to Ukraine: what's going on

"CENTCOM is committed to working with our allies and partners to counter the flow of Iranian lethal assistance in the region by all legal means," the US Central Command said.

It took almost a year for the US government to obtain ownership of the confiscated weapons. This was achieved only on December 1 – through civil forfeiture lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran.

"Militarnyi" adds that this is not the first time that such a transfer of confiscated weapons and ammunition has been made. For example, in October last year, the United States handed over about 1.1 million rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"Previously, it was unclear how the transfer of weapons would be legally formalized, as the UN requires that seized weapons be destroyed or stored. The US Presidential Administration has been thinking for several months about how to legally transfer weapons stored at CENTCOM facilities throughout the Middle East to Ukraine," Militarny adds.

It was reported in early October 2023 that Ukraine could receive thousands of confiscated Iranian weapons and ammunition from the United States. The decision was justified by the fact that such a transfer could help to partially eliminate the acute shortage of weapons faced by the Armed Forces, which, both then and now, are waiting for additional money and equipment from the United States.

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