Iranian fingerprints were all over the weapons, says US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley
WASHINGTON: US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she called “undeniable” evidence Thursday that a ballistic missile fired by Al Houthis in Yemen at Saudi Arabia last month was Iranian-made, a charge Tehran immediately denied.
Haley accused Tehran of a “blatant violation” of UN Security Council obligations designed to rein in its missile activity, further stepping up the rhetoric towards Iran which Washington accuses of going against the spirit of a historic nuclear accord.
Standing in a warehouse at a Washington military base in front of recovered pieces of two missiles, Haley said Iranian fingerprints were all over the weapons, one of which she said was fired at Riyadh’s airport on November 4.
“It was made in Iran then sent to Al Houthis 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.”
She charged that the 2015 nuclear deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme had “done nothing to moderate the regime’s conduct in other areas,” and accused Tehran of “fanning the flames” of regional conflict.
Haley said the missiles were Iranian Qiam-class short-range ballistic rockets and pointed to valves that she said proved their origin. The Qiam-1 is based on a modified Scud design.
Haley also showed other pieces of military materiel she said were provided by Iran, and after her announcement officials showed journalists pieces of an anti-tank missile, an explosive boat, drones and other gear.
“The evidence is undeniable. The weapons might as well have had ‘Made in Iran’ stickers all over it,” Haley said.
“These are Iranian-made, these are Iranian-sent and these are Iranian-given, in violation of the Security Council,” she said.
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.
Haley did not discuss the timeline of when Iran is supposed to have provided the weapons, or whether this may have happened before the nuclear deal was signed.
The report from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, obtained by AFP, said 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 Organisation.
In his report, Guterres said officials had seen the logo but that they were still analyzing the information.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told AFP that Iran’s apparent willingness to risk transferring missiles to Al Houthis indicates that the Yemeni theatre “may not be as peripheral to Tehran as previously assumed.”
Recent Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations they violate the spirit of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.