Update: 04/20/15: The not so shocking update is the ships have no interest in blocking the eight Iranian vessels which are likely carrying arms for Houthis.
The Pentagon says the American warship USS Theodore Roosevelt is “repositioning” as part of a security operation at sea, and not to intercept Iranian vessels off the coast of Yemen.
The AP had reported the warship was planning to block the Iranian ships.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren dismissed the report, saying the Roosevelt is ”repositioning to conduct maritime security operations.”
The guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy escorted the ship to keep the “lanes safe”.
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Normandy are steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen, the Associated Press reported.
There are reports that eight Iranian ships are on the way to Yemen with arms for the Houthis.
This is another red line.
A U.S. defense official has said they have no specific mission to intercept Iranian arms shipments.
There are about nine US ships in the region that regularly patrol the area, including destroyers, minesweepers and cruisers, according to The Washington Post. There are an additional three amphibious ships which carry about 2,200 Marines.
Josh Earnest wouldn’t specifically comment at the daily briefing but did say the administration is concerned about Iran supplying weapons to Yemen.
“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen. That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country. These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”
He said “the Iranians are acutely aware of our concerns for their continued support of the Houthis by sending them large shipments of weapons.”
The U.N. imposed an embargo against the rebels to stem the flow of arms to Yemen from Iran.
There have been 28 flights a week from Tehran to Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Iran denies the planes are transporting arms to the Houthis.
There is evidence it has been going on for some time. Yemeni coastguard intercepted an Iranian ship carrying arms destined for the Houthis over two years ago.
Recently Ali Reza Zakani, an Iranian MP, bragged that Sana’a was now the fourth Arab capital in Iranian hands – after Beirut (through Hizbollah), Damascus (through President Assad) and Baghdad (through Iraq’s democratically elected Shia-led government).
On Sunday, the commander of Iran’s ground forces Ahmad Reza Bordestan warned that the war in Yemen would spill into neighboring Saudi Arabia and engulf the kingdom unless they stop bombings raids in Yemen.
“There will be explosions in Saudi Arabia through rockets fired into its territory and the price of this (conflict) will be heavy for Saudi authorities,” Bordestan said in an interview with Iran’s state-owned Al-Alam TV.
“With their past experience and abilities the Yemeni army can hit hard at Saudi Arabia,” he threatened.
These are the people to whom we want to provide a path to nuclear weapons.