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US offers up to $100,000 for information in its fight against smuggling in Iran

Cash rewards for trying to interdict weapons and narcotics in the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea
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PHOTO/ Carla Ocampo/Marina de EEUU vía AP  -   US guided-missile destroyer

The US Navy is offering cash rewards of up to $100,000 for information leading to the interception of weapons and narcotics smuggled from Iran.
 
Although the initiative promoted by the US Fifth Fleet has not directly named Iran, but the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, experts agree that it was aimed at stopping the sale of Iranian weapons to the Houthi militia and the drug trafficking that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could carry out in Yemen. 
 
A situation the US aims to eradicate and which Timothy Hawkins, spokesman for the Fifth Fleet, said: "Any destabilising activity has our attention... we have definitely seen in the last year a dizzying success in seizing illegal narcotics and illicit weapons. This represents another step in our effort to improve regional maritime security".

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AFP/ATTA KENARE – Image of Iranian vessel

Payments can also be in the form of food, small boats or vehicles, and operators manning the lines, where citizens can report possible smugglers' movements, will be manned by personnel fluent in Arabic, English and Farsi. In addition, the navy will be assisted on the line with Dari and Pashto. 
 
Given the possibility that these interceptions could increase tensions with Iran, Hawkins expressed the need to end this illegal trade in order to secure the region; he also highlighted the positive effect these measures will have, listing the weapons and drugs the navy hoped to intercept under the programme.

This has been going on for years, and thanks to previous bounty-driven moves, the fleet and its allies seized $500 million worth of drugs in 2021, more than the previous four years combined. It also had a very positive effect on arms smuggling, intercepting the shipment of 9,000 weapons, three times what was seized in 2019.
 
It was Fifth Fleet Vice Admiral Brad Cooper who introduced a significant number of drones to facilitate their military tasks, assisting in US operations in the Strait of Hormuz against the Revolutionary Guards.

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REUTERS/YORUK ISIK -  The US Navy's guided missile destroyer, the USS 'Ross'.

The fighting in Yemen is devastating, and Iran is partly to blame as it continues to supply arms to the Houthi militia, fuelling the insurgents' conflict against the internationally recognised government
 
Despite the UN Security Council's arms embargo on Yemeni territory, Tehran persists in sending rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and other weaponry to the militia. Indeed, UN experts have examined missiles aimed at civilians and found Iranian-made components.
 
But the Houthis have not been idle in the face of increased US pressure on Yemen, with one of their spokesmen saying they were monitoring increased US activity in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf. "Because of this, the options for defence and confrontation are open," he added.
 
Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.