A senior U.S. official said Thursday that Washington has “undeniable” evidence that Iran is illegally supplying weapons to rebels in Yemen as part of a “pattern” of bad behavior in the region.
“In this warehouse is concrete evidence of illegal Iranian weapons proliferation, gathered from direct military attacks on our partners in the region,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told a news conference at a military base in Washington.
Haley made her presentation standing in front of large pieces of debris she said were from a short-range missile recently fired by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels based in Yemen into Saudi Arabia that struck a civilian airport. She said the U.S. would invite Congress and members of the U.N. Security Council to inspect the debris.
“All of these weapons include parts made in Iran, some by Iran’s government-run defense industry; all are proof that Iran is defying the international community,” Haley said. “And not just one time. This evidence demonstrates a pattern of behavior in which Iran sows conflict and extremism in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
“The evidence is undeniable,” Haley said, “The weapons might as well have had ‘Made in Iran’ stickers all over it.”
Haley faulted the nuclear deal agreed to in 2015 by the six major powers with Tehran, saying Iran has “hidden behind it,” and that “these are the things they are doing while we are all looking the other way.”
Iran’s U.N. Mission put out a statement immediately after Haley’s news conference dismissing the allegations as “unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive.”
Haley also welcomed a December 8 report from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal. It includes detailed information from several member states, including the United States and Saudi Arabia, on weapons they have seized that were apparently headed for Yemen. The Saudis also provided debris from missiles and other military hardware that had been launched from Yemen and landed in Saudi territory.
Guterres said his office is still analyzing the information collected and drew no firm conclusions on the origin of the weapons.
In the report, the U.N. chief also urged the United States to maintain its commitments under the nuclear agreement and “consider the broader implications for the region before taking any further steps.” He also called on Iran to “carefully consider the concerns raised by other participants in the plan.”
Haley said Washington would take a new approach to dealing with the global threat posed by Iran and not just focus on the nuclear deal.
“Our new strategy was prompted by the undeniable fact that the Iranian regime’s behavior is growing worse.The nuclear deal has done nothing to moderate the regime’s conduct in other areas.”
She said she would seek support in the U.N. Security Council and that the president would work with Congress.
“You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they are doing,” Haley said. “We are not going to sit back and not watch this; we are going to turn around and not only be aggressive about it, we are going to be forceful about it and we are going to let the international community know what a threat this actually is.”