April 05, 2018

Iranian missiles in Yemen

Washington Post
Iranian missiles in Yemen

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels are continuing to obtain surface-to-surface missiles covertly from Iran in violation of U.N. sanctions.

The missiles have been fired at targets in Saudi Arabia, most recently a salvo of seven missiles launched last week. At least one of the missiles was intercepted by U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile interceptors.

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said the use of Iranian missile strikes against Saudi Arabia represents a dangerous escalation of the Yemen conflict.

“When this war started three years ago, much of the fighting was confined into the mountainous terrain of Yemen,” Mr. Cotton said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “And now, long-range missiles are being fired at King Khalid International Airport outside of Riyadh.”

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the Central Command, agreed that the use of missiles by the Houthis represents a significant increase in the Iran-backed conflict. The general declined to say whether the Iranian missiles in Yemen can reach the United Arab Emirates, where the U.S. Air Force is using the Al Dhafra air base for regional operations.

“But, certainly, we’ve seen threats that have gone as far as the international airport outside of Riyadh,” he said. “This is a dangerous threat.”

As for how the missiles are entering Yemen, Gen. Votel said: “Iran has a very sophisticated network of doing this. They can move them by components. They can move them by air. They can move them by maritime means. They can move them by land routes to get their stuff in there and then reassemble it and provide it to the Houthis.”

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has identified three types of missiles used by the Yemeni rebels — the Burkan-2H, Qaher-2M and Badr-1. The Burkan is the Houthi name given to Iran’s Qiam-1, an extended range version of the Shahab-2 short-range ballistic missile.

The Qaher-2M is a Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile modified into a surface-to-surface missile. It has a range of up to 248 miles with a warhead weighing up to 772 pounds.

Both the Burkan and the Qaher missiles have been fired multiple times in recent weeks, but the Badr-1 was used for the first time in late March, targeting a Saudi Aramco oil facility.

While the Badr has been identified in Iranian reports as a short-range ballistic missile, the missile appears to be a long-range artillery rocket and appears similar to Iran’s Fajr-3 and Fajr-5, among the most widely proliferated Iranian rockets

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