Russia: No Case for UN Action Against Iran on Yemen

Russia: No Case for UN Action Against Iran on YemenRussia: No Case for UN Action Against Iran on Yemen

Moscow does not believe there is a case for United Nations action against Iran, Russia's UN ambassador said on Wednesday after traveling to Washington to view pieces of weapons that Washington claims Tehran gave Yemen's Houthi group.

US President Donald Trump's administration has for months been lobbying for Iran to be held accountable at the UN, while at the same time threatening to quit the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers if the accord's "disastrous flaws" are not fixed.

"We only heard some vague talk about some action," Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said, Reuters reported. "If there is something [proposed], we will see. How can we pass judgment prematurely before we know what it is about?"

Asked if there was a case against Iran at the UN, Nebenzia answered: "No".

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley took her 14 Security Council colleagues to a military hangar near Washington on Monday to see remnants of what the Pentagon claimed was an Iranian-made ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh, as well as other weapons. Iran has denied supplying Houthi fighters with such weaponry and described the arms displayed in Washington as "fabricated".

  No Judgment

"Yemen hosts a pile of weapons from the old days, [with] many countries competing to supply weapons to Yemen during the time of [former] president [Ali Abdullah] Saleh, so I cannot give you anything conclusive," Nebenzia said. "I am not an expert to judge."

Independent UN experts reported to the Security Council in January that Iran had violated UN sanctions on Yemen, claiming that "it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer" of ballistic missiles and other equipment to the Houthi group.

Nebenzia questioned whether there was conclusive evidence. He said it was up to the Security Council's Yemen sanctions committee—made up of diplomats from the council's 15 members—to address the report by the UN experts.

  Insufficient Evidence

Kazakhstan's UN Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Security Council president for January, also suggested the evidence shown to council envoys in Washington may not be enough for UN action.

"Unfortunately we don't know how this weaponry was delivered to Yemen," he told reporters on Wednesday.

According to Haley, Washington has been considering several possible UN options for action against Iran, including tightening ballistic missile restrictions on Tehran or imposing targeting sanctions on Iranian individuals or entities. Diplomats have said Haley has not signaled which accountability option she might pursue or when. The Trump administration has been trying to persuade the European nations that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal to accept side deals under which they would join the US in reimposing sanctions if Iran continues ballistic missile testing or refuses UN inspections of sensitive sites.

Trump's threats to rip up the painstakingly negotiated agreement have become a key point of tension between the US and European nations.

Iran says its missiles are for defensive purposes only and that its military sites are outside the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with verifying Iran's compliance with its nuclear-related obligations under the nuclear deal.

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