The White House said Tuesday that a U.S. aircraft carrier was dispatched to the waters off Yemen to ensure the “free flow of commerce,” but didn’t rule out it also could block Iranian weapons shipments to Shiite rebels fighting in Yemen.
“This is a clear statement about our commitment to ensuring the free flow of commerce,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who called the movement of the USS Theodore Roosevelt “just the latest in the deployment of personnel and assets to this region of the world.”
Asked if U.S. ships would help to enforce a U.N. Security Council resolution banning arms shipments to the Houthi rebels, Mr. Earnest said he didn’t want to “speculate on that at this point.”
“We have been concerned about Iranian support and weapons shipments to the Houthis, and the international community is serious about the strict enforcement” of the arms embargo, Mr. Earnest said. “The United States is serious in standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the international community” on the arms embargo.
The Roosevelt and her escort ship, the USS Normandy, a guided-missile cruiser, left the Persian Gulf on Sunday en route for the Arabian Sea. The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its show of force in the region amid reports that Iranian ships are sailing toward Yemen.