Trump warns UN diplomats of Iran-Houthi weapons
NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump urged UN Security Council envoys to clamp down on Iranian aggression on Monday after they were shown what US officials say are debris from an Iranianbuilt missile fired at Saudi Arabia.
Trump dined with diplomats from the UN’s decision-making body at the White House after they toured Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington to see the twisted metal fragments from a weapon that Tehran allegedly provided to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The billionaire said the 15-nation body has “much work” on its agenda, including “countering Iran’s destabilization activities” in the region as he seeks to tighten a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other world powers.
He mentioned the “display of Iranian missiles and arms that the regime has transferred to its militant allies in Yemen” that envoys saw earlier on a tour, escorted by Washington’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
“We believe what the Council saw today makes it clear that the evidence continues to grow that Iran is blatantly ignoring its international obligations,” Haley said.
“Iran’s aggression is a threat not just to its neighbors, but to the entire world — it cannot get away with this lawless behavior any longer. We will continue to call out Iran’s actions every chance we can until they change course and abide by their commitments.”
US officials say the wreckage displayed at the 905-acre military base comes from an Iran-made short-range ballistic missile provided to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who fired it at an international airport near Riyadh in November.
The missile was shot down and caused no casualties. Iran denies arming the Houthis.
UN Security Council investigators reported this month that Iran had violated UN sanctions on Yemen because “it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of shortrange ballistic missiles and other gear to the Houthis.
The independent experts said they had “identified missile remnants, related military equipment and military unmanned aerial vehicles that are of Iranian origin and were introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo.”
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif chided the Trump administration for spreading “fake news” about Tehran’s activities in Yemen.
US-Iran relations have worsened under Trump, who threatens to leave the nuclear deal unless it is rewritten to permanently block Tehran from building nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Haley seeks to persuade UN Security Council members to act against Iran, possibly via sanctions. She faces opposition from Russia, which has better ties with Tehran, and Washington’s European allies, who want the 2015 deal to stick.
In particular, Trump has criticized Tehran for backing Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are locked in a grinding war with forces from a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government.