Iran sanctions Royal Navy captain shooting down Houthi drones

Among dozens of US and UK officials targeted by Tehran is the leader of the warship defending merchant ships

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The commander of a UK warship that has been shooting down Houthi rebel drones has been sanctioned by Iran, along with several other officials in Britain and the US.

Commander Peter Evans is at the helm of HMS Diamond, which is posted in the Red Sea as part of a multinational force protecting shipping from the Houthis, and the warship has itself also been sanctioned.

Richard Kemp, commander of the Royal navy frigate HMS Richmond, which was also posted to the Red Sea, has also been sanctioned.

The US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian is intended to protect ships using the vital sea lanes.

Also placed under sanctions is the UK’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, commander of the British army strategic command James Hockenhull and the Royal Air Force base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, from which warplanes carried out attacks on Houthi targets.

The Yemen-based Houthis has repeatedly attacked shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, claiming its actions are in response to Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza – an assertion dismissed by the UK and allies.

This week the group said they are bracing for retaliatory action by the UK and the US after rejecting what America called incentives to stop their Red Sea attacks.

The Iranians also announced sanctions against US firms Lockheed Martin and Chevron, and British counterparts Elbit Systems, Parker Meggitt and Rafael UK. It also said it was retaliating against US Treasury efforts to block crypto currency assets linked to Hamas.

It said the sanctions targeted seven Americans, including General Bryan P. Fenton, commander of the US special operations command, and Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, a former commander of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Jason Greenblatt, an aide to Donald Trump and the Trump Organisation and his adviser on Israel, has also been sanctioned.

Also on the list are Michael Rubin, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Jason Brodsky, the policy director of United against Nuclear Iran.

Iran unveiled the punitive measures in a statement from its foreign ministry.

The ministry said the sanctions include “blocking of accounts and transactions in the Iranian financial and banking systems, blocking of assets within the jurisdiction of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as prohibition of visa issuance and entry to the Iranian territory”.

The impact of these measures on the individuals or entities, as well as their assets or dealings with Iran, remains unclear.

HMS Diamond is currently posted in the region to deter Houthi attacks after taking over from HMS Richmond, whose commanding officer has also been placed under sanctions.

The vessel last week shot down a missile fired at a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

When it operated in the region in December and January it came under fire in three separate attacks by Houthi forces, successfully destroying nine drones with the Sea Viper missile system and guns.

The Ministry of Defence claims its weapons systems can destroy a target the size of a cricket ball travelling at three times the speed of sound in the air.

Updated: May 04, 2024, 12:06 PM