Yemen’s Houthi group has fired a cruise missile toward an under-construction nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, the group’s television service said on its website Sunday, without providing any evidence.
“The missile force announces the launching of a winged cruise missile … toward the al-Barakah nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi,” the website said. It gave no further details.
Still under construction, the four nuclear reactors at the $30-billion plant are scheduled to start operation successively between 2018 and 2020.
In September, the UAE’s energy minister said the country’s first nuclear reactor will “definitely” be operational next year with the operating company getting a license in 2018.
However, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation announced in May that the plant had received the fuel assemblies for its unit 1 reactor. The fuel assemblies, the ENEC said in a statement, were being “securely stored” at the plant.
It was unclear if the assemblies were still being stored there.
Sunday’s claim comes as the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, celebrates its National Day.
It is the second time this year the Houthis have said they have fired missiles toward the UAE. A few months ago they said they had “successfully” test-fired a missile toward the country.
Meanwhile, the rebel alliance controlling Yemen’s capital appeared to crumble Saturday as a strongman opposed to the internationally recognized government reached out to a Saudi-led coalition fighting the insurgents.
Ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who joined forces with the Iran-backed Huthi rebels to seize the capital in 2014, said he was ready to talk to the Saudi-led coalition if it lifts a crippling blockade on Yemen.
His about-face sparked warnings of retribution by the Huthis, whose leader accused Saleh of “great treason”.