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U.S. Navy warship seized missile parts suspected to be linked to Iran -officials

A U.S. Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran in the Gulf of Oman, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump's administration pressures Tehran to curb its regional activities.

Adds details, background

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy warship seized advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran in the Gulf of Oman, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump's administration pressures Tehran to curb its regional activities.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the guided missile destroyer Forrest Sherman detained a small boat last week and a detachment of U.S. personnel boarded the vessel, where the missile parts were found.

The crew on the small boat have been transferred to the Yemeni Coast Guard and the missile parts are in possession of the United States for now, the officials added.

One of the officials said that, according to initial information, the weapons were bound for Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Over the past several years, U.S. warships have intercepted and seized Iranian arms likely bound for Houthi fighters. The official said what made this different was the advanced nature of the parts.

Under a U.N. resolution, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country unless approved by the Security Council. A separate U.N. resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders.

The conflict in Yemen is seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Houthis have built their arsenal using local manufacturing, foreign expertise and parts smuggled in from Iran, their ally, and elsewhere. They also took over large swaths of Yemen’s conventional military, including Scud missiles, when they seized the capital in late 2014.

The Saudi-led coalition said in June the Houthis had fired 226 ballistic missiles and 710,606 "projectiles" during the war.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali Editing by Chris Reese)

((Idrees.Ali@thomsonreuters.com; 301-747-8263;))

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