Oct. 26 (UPI) -- United Nations investigators examined weapons aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer Friday to determine if Iran is smuggling arms to Yemen.
More than 2,500 AK-47 assault rifles and other guns were seized in August off the coast of Yemen, and were inspected Thursday aboard the USS Jason Dunham.
U.S. authorities invited U.N. inspectors to determine if the cache constitutes evidence that Iran is smuggling arms to Shi'ite Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen's four-year civil war.
Tehran denies sending weapons to the Houthis, but the United States has repeatedly said Iran is arming the rebel group, which would violate U.N. resolutions.
The seized weapons were confiscated after the Navy ship's crew observed large bags being transferred from a ship 70 miles off the Yemeni coast to a smaller vessel. The Navy intercepted the smaller ship and found the weapons. At issue is where they originated.
The smaller ship took on water as it was towed to shore by the destroyer, with about 500 more weapons on board, Navy Fifth Fleet Vice Adm. Scott Stearney said. The Navy ultimately sunk the ship to keep it from becoming a waterway hazard. Those aboard were transferred to the warship and turned over to the Yemeni Coast Guard.
The weapons, heavily rusted from several months at sea, were on display aboard the USS Jason Dunham on Thursday.
Capt. Adan Cruz of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said U.N. inspectors will determine the guns' origin and "see first-hand the weapons flowing into the region."