Officials in Washington said earlier this week that the
seizure of the ship on January 23 had been coordinated with the
US Navy and that the intercepted shipment was believed to have
been from Iran and destined for insurgents, likely to be Shi'ite
Muslim Houthi rebels mainly based in northern Yemen.
Saba quoted a source at Yemen's higher security committee as
saying the weapons including Russian-designed SAM 2 and SAM 3
anti-aircraft missiles, were hidden inside four containers
concealed by a diesel tank with a capacity of 100,000 liters.
"The source said that the ship, with its cargo, was handed
over to eight Yemeni crew in Iran to deliver it to the Yemeni
shores," Saba said.
The agency said the weapons were now being unloaded and
sorted and the crew questioned.
"The results will be published after the contents of the
ship are unloaded and sorted," it added.
Gulf Arab governments and Sunni clerical allies accuse
regional Shi'ite Muslim power Iran of backing co-religionist
communities around the region, and Sanaa has also accused Iran
of trying to meddle in Yemeni affairs.
Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi snubbed a visiting
Iranian envoy last year to signal "displeasure" after Sanaa said
it uncovered an Iranian-led spy ring in the capital.
A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
on Monday that the seizure of the ship demonstrates "ever
pernicious Iranian meddling in other countries in the region".
Iran denies any interference in Yemen's affairs.
Analysts and diplomats believe the Houthis, named after
their leaders' family, have turned Yemen into a new front in a
long struggle between Iran and Western powers and the Arab
regimes they support.
Earlier in January, the US envoy to Yemen
Feierstein, was quoted as accusing Iran of working with southern
secessionists seeking to restore the country that merged with
in 1990. Yemen
is also grappling with an al- Qaida
insurgency in the center and south of the country.
Its location flanking top oil producer Saudi Arabia - Iran's
Sunni Muslim regional adversary - and major shipping lanes have
made restoring its stability an international priority.
Yemen's government said in a statement issued by the Yemeni
embassy in Washington last Monday that the shipment was
intercepted in Yemeni waters, close to the Arabian Sea. It said
Yemeni Coast Guard officials boarded the vessel, which flew
multiple flags and had eight Yemeni crew members on board.
"Authorities are continuing to investigate the vessel's
shipping route by analyzing navigation records found on board
the ship," the statement said.