Trump warns UN diplo­mats of Iran-Houthi weapons

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL - JAMES REINL

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.

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