This claim, if substantiated, adds to indications of covert Iranian support for the Houthi insurgency against the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-backed Hadi government.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley referred to a Houthi ballistic missile as the Qiam-1, when she specifically referenced a missile fired in July 2017.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrington, Commander of U.S Air Forces CENTCOM stated, “there have been Iranian markings on those missiles,” when describing the Houthi missile used in the strike on November 4th, but refrained from formally calling the missile a Qiam-1 SRBM.
In April 2017, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “We see Iranian-supplied missiles being fired by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia.”
As well, in a New York Times article in September 2017, Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces CENTCOM stated, “these types of weapons did not exist in Yemen before the conflict.”
According to the Reuters article, while refraining from formally pointing a finger at Iran, UN sanctions experts opted to say, “as yet has no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier,” of the missiles. They suggested that missiles could be smuggled by land into Yemen “in pieces and assembled there by missile engineers.”
Oman was one land route the UN monitors mentioned. In fact, Reuters broke a story about Iran’s use of Oman’s lax western border with Yemen to ship weapons to its Houthi partners in October 2016. Reuters reported that this overland supply route was likely chosen by Iran as a response to interdicted shipments of light-arms and anti-tank weapons by a maritime coalition.
However, the UN Panel of Experts has doubts about Iran’s ability to ship SRBMs over land. The UN report in January stated, “although anti-tank guided weapons are now being smuggled on the land routes, the Panel assesses it as unlikely that the network using these routes could covertly transfer any significant quantities of larger-calibre weapon systems, such as short-range ballistic missiles, into Yemen at the current time. An anti-tank guided weapon is less than 1 m in length and easily hidden in a large truck, while a short-range ballistic missile of 7 m in length is much more difficult to conceal.”
Transferring the Qiam-1 would constitute a violation of the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2216 that formally levied an arms embargo on Yemen in 2015. It would also be a violation of Annex B of UNSCR 2231, which codified the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and contains clauses governing transfers of ballistic missile technology found in the MTCR list.
According to an article by France 24 analyzing the same UN report, the Iranian missile was “marked with a logo similar to that of the Sahid Begheri Industrial Group (SBIG)… a subsidiary of the Iranian Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO).” Both entities are reported to be a part of Iran’s defense-industrial base, with AIO being a formal subsidiary of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL). The three entities are sanctioned in the US under Executive Order 13382, according the 2015 nuclear deal. The European Union is slated to de-list them no later than 2023.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) writes in an article for Long War Journal, o