US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged the United Nations to tighten restrictions on Iran’s missiles, which he warned could strike US allies, but other powers called instead for dialogue.
Pompeo headed to New York for a Security Council meeting on Iran, which recently confirmed a medium-range ballistic missile test, arguing it is legal and necessary for its defence.
“We risk the security of our people if Iran continues stocking up on ballistic missiles,” Pompeo told the Security Council.
“We risk escalation of conflict in the region if we fail to restore deterrence. And we convey to all other malign actors that they too can defy the Security Council with impunity if we do nothing,” he said.
Iran has “hundreds of missiles which pose a threat to our partners in the region,” Pompeo said, referring to Israel and Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo said the United States would press to preserve a UN arms embargo on Iran due to expire in 2020 and urge the Security Council to set up inspections at sea to prevent weapons shipments.
He also called for the return of a firmer prohibition on Iran developing missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, toughening language from the Security Council resolution that supported the nuclear deal.
President Donald Trump has made pressuring Iran a major focus, withdrawing from an international accord on curbing Teheran’s nuclear programme negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama and reimposing sweeping sanctions.
Confirming US concerns, a UN report submitted to the Security Council said that recent missiles fired by Yemen’s Huthi rebels were manufactured in Iran.
Saudi Arabia has been waging air strikes and a blockade against the rebels, who share religious ties with Iran, triggering what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.