From Iran With Love: U.S. Announces Shipment Of 'War Toys' For Ukraine's Defense

By Lisa Pelgin | Wednesday, 10 April 2024 09:30 AM
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The United States military has confirmed the transfer of thousands of firearms and ammunition rounds to Ukraine, previously seized from Iranian smugglers.

The weaponry, which includes machine guns, rifles, rocket grenades, and over half a million rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, has been in the possession of the U.S. Department of Justice since December 1. The transfer comes as Washington seeks to replenish Ukraine's rapidly depleting arsenal amid Russia's invasion.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) stated, "These weapons will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s invasion." The cache, which was officially handed over on Thursday, is sufficient to arm a Ukrainian brigade, approximately 4,000 troops.

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The weapons were intercepted from four stateless smuggling vessels in the Red Sea between May 22, 2021, and February 15, 2023, by CENTCOM and partner naval forces. The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been illegally shipping weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen for years, including parts for advanced conventional weapons, in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, according to CENTCOM.

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"Iran’s support for armed groups threatens international and regional security, our forces, diplomatic personnel, and citizens in the region, as well as those of our partners. We will continue to do whatever we can to shed light on and stop Iran’s destabilizing activities," CENTCOM said.

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The Houthis have launched numerous attacks on U.S. and partner warships and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, primarily using missiles and drones with designs and components originating from Iran.

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This is the second instance of the U.S. donating confiscated Iranian-origin weapons to Ukraine. In October, CENTCOM announced the transfer of 1.1 million 7.62mm rounds to the Ukrainian armed forces, seized in December of the previous year.

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The Department of Justice's civil forfeiture claims provide a legal basis for the U.S. to take possession of the weapons, according to the statements.

On January 28, the Coast Guard confiscated over 200 packages containing "medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle (UUV/USV) components, military-grade communication and network equipment, anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies, and other military components," CENTCOM said.

In a previous instance on January 11, when the U.S. military intercepted and seized illicit weapons, a specialized U.S. Navy team took the crew into custody and sank the smuggling vessel.

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