DUBAI: Iran manufactured the ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels towards the Saudi capital and remnants of it bore “Iranian markings,” the top US Air Force official in the Mideast said yesterday.
The comments were made by Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, who oversees the Air Force’s Central Command in Qatar.
“There have been Iranian markings on those missiles,” Harrigian said at a news conference in Dubai ahead of the Dubai Airshow. “To me, that connects the dots to Iran.”
Saudi Arabia shot down the missile on November 4 near Riyadh’s international airport. Saudi Foreign Ministry said investigators examining the remains of the rocket found evidence proving “the role of Iranian regime in manufacturing them.”
French President Emmanuel Macron this week described the missile as “obviously” Iranian.
Harrigian declined to offer any specifics on what type of missile US officials believed it was. He also didn’t explain how Iran evaded the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition.
“How they got it there is probably something that will continue to be investigated over time,” Harrigian said.
“What has been demonstrated and shown based on the findings of that missile is that it had Iranian markings on it. That in itself provides evidence of where it came from.”
Adding to the suspicion is the fact that Yemen’s missile forces previously never had experience in disassembling and rebuilding the weapons, said Michael Knights, a fellow at The Washington Institute For Near East Policy who previously worked in Yemen.
It is “not a stretch to believe that Tehran is supporting the Houthi missile programme with technical advice and specialised components,” Knights wrote in an analysis.
Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information alleged that Iran smuggled weapons into Yemen by boat and truck.
“The parts are later assembled under supervision of Iranian military experts, who also help the Houthi militia plan attacks targeting Saudi civilians,” it said.
“Smuggled Iranian Qiam or Zelzal warheads are mounted onto Yemeni-made Burkan ballistic missiles.”