The US then revealed more evidence of Iran’s meddling to back up its claims, producing pieces of missiles, rockets, drones and other Iranian weaponry that were seized from Iranian proxy militias or from shipments headed to them.
While standing in front of a section of a Sayyad-2C surface-to-air missile, which was intercepted by the Saudis earlier this year en-route to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said: “The new weapons we are disclosing today illustrate the scale of Iran’s destructive role across the region. Tehran is intent on increasing the lethality and reach of these weapons to deepen its presence throughout the region. We are one missile attack away from a regional conflict.”
This is the second time in the past year that the US has publicly displayed weapons that they believe were sent from Iran to terrorist or militant groups in the region. In December 2017, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley showed “undeniable” evidence that Iran was supplying missiles and drones to malign groups.
Since then, the US says the collection has grown to include grenades, long-range drones, sniper rifles, surface-to-air missiles, AK-47s, anti-tank guided missiles, and even a second Qiam short-range ballistic missile. The ballistic missile was reportedly fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels just days after Haley’s press conference last year.
The US also says that the Iranian Regime is barely making any efforts to conceal its role, with Hook commenting that the “conspicuous Farsi markings” show that Iran doesn’t care about getting caught violating UN resolutions on sending weapons outside of their country.
Other things that prove the origin of the weapons include design features that perfectly align with photos and videos that Iran itself has provided, the presence of Iranian defence company logos, and the type of serial numbers ingrained on the weapons. Moreover, the drones use a vertical gyroscope to stabilize them and Iran is the only country in the world that uses them.
Although much coverage focuses on Iran’s support for the Houthis in Yemen, Iranian weapons are also making their way to Shiite militias in Bahrain, Shiite militias in Iraq, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Pentagon spokeswoman Commander Rebecca Rebarich said: “It’s not just Saudi and Yemen. It’s a story of how Iran is proliferating these various weapon systems across the region.”
Another pressing problem is that Iran also appears to be training the groups to use the weapons, as there is no way these weapons could be used without training.
This effort by Iran to spread its weapons has only increased since the influx of cash Iran received during the 2015 nuclear deal and its goal is to spread chaos across the Middle East.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said: “Iran’s proxy strategy is relatively low cost, but offers the regime a high reward. Weapons like anti-tank missiles and rockets may not win conflicts in the Middle East, but can bleed adversaries and force a political solution to the region’s myriad proxy war’s in Iran’s favour.”