US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations unveiled Thursday what she said was “undeniable” evidence proving that Iran is funneling missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen in violation of international law.
At a news conference in a hanger at a military base in Washington, Nikki Haley presented recently declassified evidence including segments of missiles launched at Saudi Arabia from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen.
Haley said the missile parts bear markings showing they originate in Iran and that they have technical specifications specific to Iranian-manufactured weapons.
“It was made in Iran then sent to Houthi militants in Yemen,” Haley said. “From there it was fired at a civilian airport with the potential to kill hundreds of innocent civilians in Saudi Arabia.”
The missiles prove “blatant violations” of UN Security Council resolutions while the international community was “looking the other way” because of the nuclear deal, Haley said. The US will now rally other nations to push back on Iran’s behavior, she added.
Iran immediately dismissed the evidence as “fabricated,” saying the accusations were baseless.
“This purportedly evidence, put on public display today, is as much fabricated as the one presented on some other occasions earlier,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman at Iran’s mission to the United Nations.
Iran “categorically” rejects the accusation “as unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive,” he said in a statement. “The US government has an agenda and is constantly at work to deceive the public into believing the cases they put together to advance it.”
The Iranian mission said the accusations leveled by Haley were intended to divert attention from the devastating war in Yemen being led by Saudi Arabia, a key US ally.
“These hyperboles” serve the US agenda in the Middle East including the administration’s “unbridled support for the Israeli regime,” Miryousefi added.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said Haley’s presentation was further indication of a need to contain Iran’s missile program, which Jerusalem has long argued is a lacuna in the nuclear deal.
“Today’s revelations proved yet again that Iran’s dangerous presence in the Middle East is only growing despite their attempts to deceive the world,” Danny Danon said in a statement. “The threat of Iranian missiles stretches from the Persian Gulf, through Yemen, Syria and all the way to Lebanon and Gaza. The dangers emanating from Iran are unacceptable and it is imperative that the United Nations and the international community act immediately to ensure an end to these threats.”
A confidential report to the Security Council this month said UN officials had examined debris from missiles fired at Saudi Arabia that pointed to a “common origin,” but there was no firm conclusion on whether they came from an Iranian supplier.
The report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which was obtained by AFP, said the officials were still analyzing the information.
A separate team of UN experts who inspected the missile fragments during a visit to Riyadh last month found a possible link to an Iranian manufacturer, the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group, which is on the UN sanctions blacklist.
The experts, who report to the sanctions committee, found a component marked by a logo similar to that of the banned group, which is a subsidiary of the Iranian Aerospace Industries Organization.
Haley has called on the UN Security Council to take a tougher stance toward Iran, accusing Tehran of making illegal arms deals in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels in Yemen imposed a blockade of Yemen’s air and sea ports and borders after the missile was fired at Riyadh, citing concerns that weapons were being smuggled into Yemen.