U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made the case Thursday that Iran provided ballistic missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen, a potential violation of the U.N. resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal.
In an unusual public presentation of physical evidence at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Haley displayed what U.S. officials say are remnants of a missile fired by Houthi militants from Yemen into Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4.
The Pentagon says the missile fragments, along with a drone and anti-tank weapons recovered by the Saudis in Yemen, bear the markings of Iranian-made arms. Haley called the weapons “irrefutable evidence” that Iran has deliberately violated its international obligations, reports Reuters.
Under U.N. resolution 2231, which laid out the enforcement framework of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country without permission from the U.N. security council. Another U.N. resolution on Yemen prohibits the supply of weapons to Houthi rebels.
The weapons displayed at Haley’s presentation were recovered by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who loaned them to Washington to present as evidence of illegal Iranian support for the Houthis, according to Pentagon officials. Both countries are part of a coalition that has been fighting Houthi forces since the rebels overthrew Yemen’s Saudi-friendly government in 2014. (RELATED: US Aid Chief: No Evidence Saudis Have Lifted Brutal Yemen Blockade)
Haley’s briefing is the latest push by the Trump administration to highlight what it sees as Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East. The administration has taken a hard line against Iran, accusing it of violating the terms of the nuclear deal and sponsoring terrorism.
“It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it,” Haley said Thursday.
U.S. officials say Thursday’s public briefing is part of a campaign to show Congress and the international community that Iran is violating U.N. rules. While Republican lawmakers generally support renegotiation of the Iran nuclear deal, many U.S. allies say the deal is working and do not want revisit it.
For its part, Iran has denied giving ballistic missiles to the Houthis. After Haley’s press conference, Iraninan Foreign Minister Javad Zarif mocked the presentation, comparing it to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech to the U.N. laying out the case for the invasion of Iraq.
“When I was based at the UN, I saw this show and what it begat…,” Zarif said in a tweet that included side-by-side pictures of Haley and Powell.
Still, Haley says the U.S. expects to accumulate a “lot more” evidence of Iranian meddling in Middle East conflicts.
“You’re going to see a rapid flow of other things,” she said.
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