UN report finds Iran in violation of Yemen arms embargo
JIM WATSON (AFP/File)
Iran has violated a UN arms embargo by failing to block supplies to Yemen's Huthi rebels of ballistic missiles that were fired at Saudi Arabia, a UN panel of experts says, bolstering US and Saudi claims of Tehran's military involvement in Yemen.
The report seen by AFP on Friday does not identify the supplier but made clear that missile debris inspected by the experts were of Iranian origin.
"The panel has 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" in 2015, said the report to the Security Council.
"As a result, the panel finds that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in non-compliance with paragraph 14 of resolution 2216" that imposed the ban on arms sales to Yemen, said the 79-page report presented on Tuesday.
Iran has strongly denied arming the Houthis and last month accused US Ambassador Nikki Haley of presenting "fabricated" evidence that a November 4 missile fired at Riyadh airport was Iranian-made.
Haley told the Security Council last month that the United States will push for action against Iran over the missile attacks targeting its ally, but Russia quickly signaled that it would not endorse such plans.
The missile attacks by the Houthis have "changed the tenor of the conflict, and has the potential to turn a local conflict into a broader regional one," the experts warned.
The panel also said it was investigating whether Iran had sent "advisers" to help the Houthis in their war against the Saudi-led coalition.
- Missile debris -
The UN experts traveled to Saudi Arabia in November and again last month to inspect the remnants of missiles fired by the Huthis in May, July, November and December.
They found that the design features of the missile debris were "consistent with those of the Iranian-designed and manufactured Qiam-1 missile" and "almost certainly produced by the same manufacturer."
The drones were "virtually identical in design" to that of an Iranian-made UAV manufactured by the Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industries (Hesa), said the report.
Iran "failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer" to the Huthis of the missiles, storage tanks for propellant and drones, it concluded.
A separate report last month said UN officials had examined the missile fragments and found that they were of "common origin" but they were unable to reach any firm conclusions about whether Iran was the source.
Already one of the Arab world's poorest countries, Yemen has been brought to its knees since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 in support of the government.
More than 8,750 people have died in the war and the country is facing what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
"After nearly three years of conflict, Yemen as a state has all but ceased to exist," said the report.
"Instead of a single state, there are warring statelets, and no one side has the political support or the military strength to reunite the country or achieve victory on the battlefield."
The landmark 2015 Nuclear Deal, Resolution 2231, also bans Iran from weapons transfers, and is thus considered a breach of one of the clauses aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program.
The finding is expected to bolster accusations from the United States and Saudi Arabia that Iran has supplied weaponry to the Houthis in their war against the Saudi-led coalition.
The report comes just after US President Donald Trump decided to keep the agreement intact for at least seven more months, despite repeated threats to see it scrapped.
He grudgingly agreed not to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran on Friday, but officials warned that it would be the last time he issues such a waiver.
Instead, a senior White House official said, Trump wants Washington's European allies to use the 60 day period before sanctions relief again comes up for renewal to agree tougher measures.
At the same time as the renewed waiver was announced, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian figures and companies, including the head of the country's judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani.
Trump met his national security team Thursday to decide whether to put the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at risk by re-imposing American sanctions.
European leaders queued to beg Trump to renew the sanctions relief that Washington agreed to in the accord, which Trump has denounced as one of the worst of all time.
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Dear ex-leader BHO must be in awe! He has been had @ every corner. But the loser is America, the least of his concerns for his transformation has failed.