Weapons seized by Royal Navy ship HMS Montrose have been presented to the UN as evidence, linking an Iranian state organisation – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – to the smuggling of weapon systems in violation of a UN Security Council Resolution.
On two occasions in early 2022, HMS Montrose seized Iranian weapons from speedboats operated by smugglers in international waters south of Iran. The items included surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land attack cruise missiles, in contravention of UN Security Council Resolutions 2231 and 2140 (2015).
The weapons were presented to representatives of the United Nations who provide an assessment of the conflict in Yemen and Iranian nuclear activity. The interdictions were referred to in the Secretary General’s UNSCR 2231 report published in Dec 2022 and are expected to feature in the UNSCR 2140 annual report that will shortly be released.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
The UK is committed to upholding international law and will continue to counter Iranian activity that contravenes United Nation Security Council Resolutions and threatens peace across the world.
That is why we have a permanent Royal Navy deployment in the Gulf region, conducting vital maritime security operations and working in support of an enduring peace in Yemen.
Minister of State for the Middle East, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said:
Once again the Iranian regime has been exposed for its reckless proliferation of weapons and destabilising activity in the region.
Iran’s sustained military support to the Houthis and continued violation of the arms embargo has stoked further conflict and undermined UN-led peace efforts.
The UK will continue to act to protect the security of our partners and hold Iran to account.
A key piece of evidence presented by the UK was a commercial quadcopter drone designed for reconnaissance activities. By decrypting the internal memory of the uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) controllers, the UK Ministry of Defence discovered the records of 22 test flights conducted at the IRGC Aerospace Force Headquarters and test facility in western Tehran. The UAV was in the same shipment as a number of Surface to Air Missiles and components for the Iranian Project 351 land attack cruise missile. This evidence indicated a direct link between the Iranian state and the smuggling of missile systems being used by the Houthis to attack the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Royal Navy has a permanent deployment of a Type 23 Frigate, equipped with a Royal Marine boarding party and a Wildcat helicopter to support maritime security operations in the Gulf of Oman. After four years continuous service in the region, HMS Montrose was replaced by HMS Lancaster in 2022. The UK stands alongside its partners in the region and is committed to disrupting the illegal flow of these weapons systems as well as narcotics and human trafficking.
The threat posed by long range weapons made in Iran is not limited to the Middle East. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Iran has supplied hundreds of Shahed one way attack drones to Russia; these transfers violate UNSCR 2231. These attacks have killed civilians and damaged critical national infrastructure (such as power sub stations) far from the front lines of the conflict.