State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau Comments on Iranian Supply of Missiles to Houthi Rebels in Yemen (Excerpts)

August 25, 2016

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile

Related Country: 

  • Saudi Arabia


QUESTION: A couple. One, in the Secretary’s comments in Jeddah that you just referred to, he said the following – it’s just two sentences, I’ll read: “We were deeply troubled by the photographs which were shown to me early on by His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Nayef showing missiles that had come from Iran that were positioned on the Saudi border.” This is obviously the Saudi border with Yemen.

How early on were you guys shown that the Iranians were supplying the Houthis with missiles?

MS TRUDEAU: So I don’t have a specific date to read out on that. What I would say is what we’ve said many times from this, which the Secretary points out, is we’re certainly not blind to Iran’s activities – destabilizing, unhelpful activities in the region. In terms of a specific date, let me see if I can get that for you.

QUESTION: Okay. But isn’t it the case that the supplying of missiles or any kind of weaponry, that what you just – that in your own words, destabilize the situation – doesn’t that draw U.S. sanctions?

MS TRUDEAU: So it’s something that we continue to look at. Obviously, the Secretary has spoken of – spoken to this. We are aware of this. We continue to look into it.

QUESTION: Well, no, he didn’t speak to whether it’s sanctionable or not. Is it your understanding that --

MS TRUDEAU: No, but he did speak to our awareness.

QUESTION: Yeah. But --

MS TRUDEAU: I would say I’m not going to get ahead of what would trigger a sanction on that, but I would say that we are looking into it.

QUESTION: Yeah. But if it was early on --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I just don’t know the date on this, Matt.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean – okay, so this thing with the Houthis started, what, early last year.


QUESTION: And if you were shown photographs early on, presumably that means closer to when it started than now, and comments from U.S. officials between when it started and now have always been rather circumspect about the support that Iran was giving to the Houthis. This seems to indicate that you guys knew that the Iranians had supplied missiles to them early on, and I’m just wondering why a decision – or why there has been no – why there hasn’t – why there wasn’t then or still hasn’t been a decision on whether this violates U.S. sanctions or UN sanctions.

MS TRUDEAU: I would say we’re looking into it. As the Secretary noted, we’ve seen those photos and we’re very aware of Iran’s actions.