Middle East Minister highlights concern over Hezbollah’s increasing weapons arsenal

By September 02 2020, 16:18 Latest News No Comments

usrqefmq (1)This week, Middle East Minister Rt. Hon. James Cleverly MP expressed the UK Government’s concerns about Hezbollah’s increasing weapons arsenal in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, and condemned “destabilising” Iranian activity in Yemen and the region.

In response to a written parliamentary question from Conservative MP John Lamont, Minister Cleverly underlined that the UK “remains concerned by reports that Hizballah continues to amass an arsenal of weapons in breach of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701”.

He added: “We regularly raise this at the UN Security Council, and we call on all parties to abide by the provisions of the relevant UNSCRs”.

The UK is also concerned that “military equipment of Iranian origin was introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo, in violation of Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015)”, he said.

The Middle East Minister said that this “reaffirms our concerns about destabilising Iranian activity in Yemen and the wider region”.

John Lamont MP had asked what assessment the Foreign Secretary had made “of the effectiveness of UN Security Council resolutions 1540, 1701 and 2216 in prohibiting the proliferation of weapons to Hezbollah and the Houthis”.

Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have provided financial support, training and weaponry to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, though Tehran has long denied arming the group.

Hezbollah is believed to have amassed an arsenal of up to 150,000 rockets in Lebanon – over ten times more than it had in the 2006 war. The rockets include hundreds of long-range Iranian-made missiles capable of striking Israeli cities from north to south, as well as systems with improved accuracy.

Hezbollah forces in Syria have improved their operational and tactical combat skills, trained and equipped thousands of militants as part of its growing network of Shi’a militias, and stockpiled a substantial arsenal of weapons including guided missiles, unmanned armed drones, short-range ballistic missiles, anti-tank missiles, and possibly chemical weapons.

Shots were fired from Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon last week towards Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers, with the IDF striking a number of Hezbollah observation posts in response.

Conservative MPs and Lords have called on the UK Government to prevent the expiry of the UN arms embargo on Iran in October 2020, emphasising the implications for regional security of renewed arms sales. Parliamentarians have also raised concerns in recent months about the potential misuse of any loan packages from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Lebanon by Hezbollah, urging the UK Government to ensure that IMF support is subject to strict oversight and monitoring.

The UK Government proscribed the Hezbollah terror group in full in February last year, citing its “destabilising activities in the region” and commitment to “armed resistance to the State of Israel”.

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