The US Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet will begin to offer rewards for information that could help sailors intercept weapons, drugs and other illicit shipments across the region.

The program launches against the backdrop of tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s arming of allies across the region.
The program launches against the backdrop of tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and Tehran’s arming of allies across the region. (AP)

The US Navy will for the first time reward individuals for providing information that leads to the seizure of illicit cargos such as illegal weapons or narcotics in waters across the Middle East, it has said.

The US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which is headquartered in Bahrain and covers strategic waterways such as the Suez Canal and Strait of Hormuz, said on Tuesday that the rewards could be in cash or items such as boats.

"NAVCENT could potentially reward a maximum $100,000 payout for information or non-lethal assistance that supports counterterrorism operations or leads US naval forces to successfully seize illicit cargo such as illegal weapons or narcotics," it said in a statement on its website.

"Rewards can also be non-monetary and include items like boats, vehicles, food or equipment," it said.

The statement gave a phone number in Bahrain where tips can be reported, in addition to the website dedicated to the US Department of Defense's rewards programme.

The statement did not mention a specific country as being a target of the reward programme, but its implementation could complicate the shipments of Iranian weapons to Tehran's allies in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

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Source: Reuters