Over the past several days, American and international media began reporting that the United States is “looking at” sending seized Iranian weapons to Ukraine to aid in their war effort against the ongoing Russian invasion. The only thing is that there is evidence this is already happening.
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) February 1, 2023
The story was first broke by the Wall Street Journal, who cited unnamed US and UK that said the US is “looking at sending Ukraine more than 5,000 assault rifles, 1.6 million rounds of small arms ammunition, a small number of anti-tank missiles, and more than 7,000 proximity fuses seized in recent months off the Yemen coast from smugglers suspected of working for Iran.”
Over the past year, American naval forces have reported numerous interdictions targeting Iranian dhows carrying weapons and ammunition for Houthi rebels in Yemen. These interdictions have resulted in the seizures of tens of thousands of rifles, machine guns, mortars, as well as hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition. Common weapons that are seen include Chinese-made Type 56 rifles and Russian-made AKS-20U sub-machine guns, although other Chinese-made Norinco firearms and indigenously made Iranian mortars and ATGMs have also been seized. The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) often announces these operations on Twitter, posting pictures of the weapons laid out on the decks of its naval vessels.
A picture of the HM-19 #mortar made by the Defense Ministry of #Iran, which #Ukrainian forces use against the #Russians.
The 82 mm HM-19 mortar, which is based on the 81 mm HM-15 (Hadid) mortar, this mortar was specially made by Iran for the Yemeni forces.#HM19 pic.twitter.com/CgBRszEdXt
— Partisan En (@partisan2015en) July 10, 2022
The use of these weapons, which are not common for the Ukrainian military to begin with, have been shared widely for months online, so I don’t know why this is being “looked at” now, let alone making headlines. Take for example the HM-19, which is an Iranian mortar system: Iran did not supply them to Ukraine before the invasion and has not supplied Ukraine any weapons, for obvious reasons, since the invasion, but they are being used by Ukraine. Same goes for the Chinese Type-56 assault rifle as China was not and is still not supplying Ukraine with them. We know that the UK has procured some for training, however, they are not being supplied for fighting. So where did they come from?
— War Noir (@war_noir) June 15, 2022
Since at least Spring 2022, weapons typically supplied by Iran to Yemen have surfaced in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers: Type 56s, Iranian NM-15 and HM-19 mortars, Norinco Type 85 DMRs. These weapons were not used by Ukraine before the war and now they are. These weapons appearing on the battlefield also coincide with seizures by the US Navy. It is pretty clear what is happening and it has been reported before, but my question is why hasn’t the US confirmed this already? Iran also has not said anything about the matter yet, even on the seizures alone. This is a clear case of seizing guns meant for a proxy war being used to arm another conflict, although I don’t think this is what they meant by reduce, reuse, and recycle.