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Yemen seeks U.N. probe of seized ship

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

UNITED NATIONS — Yemen has asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate a ship that Yemeni authorities said they seized with a cargo of Iranian-made missiles, rockets and other weapons, the U.N. envoy to the impoverished Mideast nation said on Thursday.

Security Council members are discussing Yemen's request, Jamal Benomar told reporters after Security Council consultations on Yemen's political transition.

Yemen's Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that Yemeni authorities seized an Iranian ship last month carrying material for bombs and suicide belts, explosives, Katyusha rockets, surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and large amounts of ammunition.

Yemeni President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi sent a message to his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, last week calling on him to stop sending arms to Yemen and quit supporting a southern separatist movement, according to an official in the Yemeni president's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Benomar would not say if the U.N. could confirm that the weapons were Iranian. He said it would be up to the U.N. investigation to determine “where the shipment came from, who the recipients were, etc.”

Yemen recently has witnessed several cases of illegal arms shipments through its porous shores and also is home to an active branch of al-Qaida, which staged several failed or foiled attacks on U.S. territory. Yemen has been struggling with a transition to democracy since Arab Spring protests a year ago forced Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 33 years as president. Hadi leads a transitional government that is trying to promote national reconciliation.

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