Haley suggests action on Iran missiles could persuade Trump not to nix nuke deal
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Haley suggests action on Iran missiles could persuade Trump not to nix nuke deal

Leading fellow Security Council ambassadors on field trip to Washington, US envoy says she's trying to persuade other countries to pressure Tehran over non-nuclear transgressions

US President Donald Trump (L) next to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during lunch with members of the United Nations Security Council in the State Dining Room of the White House, January 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
US President Donald Trump (L) next to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during lunch with members of the United Nations Security Council in the State Dining Room of the White House, January 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is encouraging other UN Security Council countries to set aside the nuclear deal loathed by President Donald Trump and focus on cracking down on Iran’s missile and other non-nuclear transgressions, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said Monday.

Haley, who brought fellow Security Council ambassadors on a field trip to Washington, suggested that a concerted global effort to punish Iran for violating Security Council resolutions on ballistic missiles could persuade Trump it was worthwhile to remain in the nuclear deal. She noted that France, a key member of the group that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal, had recently “started hitting” Iran rhetorically for violating ballistic missile resolutions.

“It’s working,” Haley said after meeting with Trump and the other ambassadors. “They’re starting to realize, ‘If we don’t start talking about the violations, if we don’t call them out, then the US is going to say this whole thing is a sham.'”

An outspoken critic of Iran, Haley brought the other Security Council envoys to a US military base in Washington to view missile parts that the US calls evidence of Iran’s illicit transfer of prohibited missiles to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Trump administration maintains that fragments from those missiles, recovered in Saudi Arabia after being launched from Yemen by the Houthis, contain markings proving they were Iranian-made, though some security experts have questioned whether the evidence is foolproof.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley points to previously classified missile segments she says prove Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by providing the Houthi rebels in Yemen with arms, during a press conference at Joint Base Anacostia in Washington, DC, on December 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Haley’s bid to persuade key nations about Iranian misbehavior comes as world leaders fret about the future of the Iran deal, which Trump has threatened to scuttle unless it can be improved to his liking. With dim prospects for re-opening the deal, Trump’s administration has instead been looking to add requirements to the US law governing implementation of the deal so that sanctions, waived as part of the deal, could be put back in place if Iran continues with non-nuclear activity that the US deems unacceptable.

The Trump administration has also been trying to persuade the European nations that negotiated the deal with the Obama administration to accept side deals under which they would join the US in re-imposing sanctions if Iran continues ballistic missile testing or refuses UN inspections of sensitive sites. Trump’s threats to rip up the painstakingly negotiated deal have become a key point of tension between the US and European nations.

China and Russia, two Security Council nations that are part of the nuclear deal, have been particularly reluctant to impose additional conditions on Iran, and have cast doubt on US allegations that Tehran is funneling weapons to the Houthis to be used against US allies like Saudi Arabia. Haley said that skepticism came across as their ambassadors viewed the missile parts on display in Washington.

US President Donald Trump (C) during lunch with members of the United Nations Security Council in the State Dining Room of the White House, January 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

“The Chinese just took notes,” Haley said. “The Russians questioned the missiles, how they got to Yemen.”

Haley’s message to the Russians: “How do you dispute this? It’s got ‘Made in Iran’ welded on it,” she said, referring figuratively to markings on the missiles that US defense officials say suggest Iranian origin.

During the daylong visit, Haley took ambassadors to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum with national security adviser H.R. McMaster and to lunch at the White House with Trump, where discussions focused on international hotspots such as Syria, North Korea and terrorism.

Each ambassador had the chance to take a photo with the president — including Russia’s envoy to the UN, who took the president up on the opportunity, Haley said.

She said several ambassadors later conveyed to her a similar impression of the president: “He wasn’t anything like what we see on TV.”

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