AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen on Sunday reneged on a deal to head off an environmental disaster in the Red Sea, only hours after reaching an agreement with the UN.

The Houthis first said they supported a new plan by UN officials to pump one million barrels of oil out of the decaying oil storage vessel Safer, which is moored off the port of Hodeidah.

But as the UN’s Yemen coordinator David Gressly hailed “constructive” talks on the plan, which is also supported by Yemen’s government, the Houthis backtracked. They said the UN was guilty of “continued disregard of its obligations” over the tanker and accused the UN mission of wasting funds allocated for maintaining the vessel.

The rusting storage tanker is more than 40 years old and has not been maintained since early 2015, when international experts fled as the Houthis took control of swaths of Yemen in a coup.