SANAA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations team arrived in Yemen on Friday to investigate a 40-ton weapons shipment seized by Yemeni coast guards last month which is believed to be from Iran, the Yemeni Defence Ministry said.
"The UN team will examine the seized weapons onboard the Jihan II and interrogate the ship's crew after preliminary investigations by the Yemeni government authorities suggested that the weapons were from Iran," the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The Yemeni government called for an investigation by the United Nations earlier this month into the weapons shipment, which the Yemeni authorities said was destined for Yemeni Shiite rebels and southern separatist groups.
The ship was seized on Jan. 23, in a joint operation by the Yemeni coast guards and the U.S. Navy forces in the Arab Sea.
The weapons include anti-aircraft missiles, C-4 Explosives, 122 mm mortar launchers, rocket-propelled grenades (RPG), land mines and anti-vehicle magnetic bombs.
An interior ministry's official told Xinhua that the Yemeni government had refused a request from Tehran to allow it to take part in the investigation process into the case.
The impoverished Arab country, which struggles to resolve a Shi 'ite rebellion in the north and a growing separatist movement in the south, has recently witnessed several cases of illegal weapons shipments off its long coasts.
In November 2012, Yemen seized an illegal arms shipment from Turkey, which were hand guns hidden in packages of biscuits.