UAE denies nuclear plant targeted by Houthi missile

The Emirati authorities reject claims by Houthi rebels in Yemen of missile launch towards its airspace.

Armed Houthi follower
The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition that has been waging war against the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015 [Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denied a report that Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired a cruise missile towards its airspace.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) said in a statement on Sunday that “the UAE’s air defence system is capable of dealing with any threats”.

Houthi rebels, who control vast swaths of Yemeni territory, earlier said they had launched a cruise missile towards a nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

According to a report in the Houthi-run Saba news agency, the missile hit the Barakah nuclear power station, which is under construction. A website for the Houthi-owned television network al-Masirah also reported the attack.

“The missile force announces the launching of a winged cruise missile … towards al-Barakah nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi,” said a statement posted on both websites.

In a statement, authorities in the UAE told residents “not to pay attention to such rumours disseminated by media agencies issuing false news that question the UAE’s capabilities, strength and security”.

The UAE is a member of the Saudi-led coalition that has been waging war against the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015.

“A cruise missile would not go all the way to Abu Dhabi, so we would be talking about ballistic missiles,” said Andreas Krieg, an assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London.

“I think this is a media stunt, a narrative stunt trying to wind everybody up, and showing that they have the intent to very much disrupt,” he told Al Jazeera.

“But I don’t think they have the intent, and they also don’t have the capability because they would need a ballistic missile to do that, and that would be a game changer,” he added.

“Had they fired a ballistic missile towards Abu Dhabi, that would have completely changed the environment in Yemen, bringing other people to the table, including the Americans and the West, because that would had been seen as completely unacceptable.”

Earlier this month, the Houthis said that one of their missiles hit a military target inside Saudi Arabia, without specifying the location.

Saudi officials, however, said they intercepted the missile.

The Saudi-led coalition has previously accused Iran of helping to arm the Houthis throughout the ongoing conflict, and has closed air, land and sea routes.

On November 4, Saudi Arabia intercepted another ballistic missile launched towards an area near Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, and labelled the attack as a potential “act of war”.

At the time, the Saudi state news agency SPA accused Iran of “flagrant military aggression” and “manufacturing and smuggling [missiles] to the Houthi militias in Yemen for the purpose of attacking the Kingdom, its people, and vital interests”.

Source: Al Jazeera