Raf Sanchez — Telegraph.co.uk Dec 14, 2017
The US ratcheted up tensions with Iran on Thursday by publicly accusing the Islamic Republic of supplying illegal weapons to a rebel group in Yemen and “fanning the flames of conflict” across the Middle East.
Standing before the twisted remains of a missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia, UN ambassador Nikki Haley said the US was taking the “extraordinary step” of declassifying American intelligence about Iran’s activities.
“We did this for a single urgent purpose: because the Iranian regime cannot be allowed to engage in its lawless behaviour any longer,” Mrs Haley said at a briefing at a US airbase outside Washington DC.
“The fight against Iranian aggression is the world’s fight. The US is acting today in the spirit of transparency and international cooperation that is necessary to defeat this threat.”
She said Iran had provided ballistic missiles, small arms and explosive boats to the Houthi rebels, who are battling against Saudi Arabia and the internationally-recognised government of Yemen, which was toppled in 2015.
But while the presentation in front of the remains of the Qiam ballistic missile was dramatic, Mrs Haley was vague about what the US intended to do next or what it hoped to see happen at the UN.
She said the US would talk with other nations at UN Security Council about “next steps” and was inviting diplomats and members of Congress to visit the airbase warehouse to see the American evidence for themselves.
“You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing,” she said.
Donald Trump, cheered on by Israel and Saudi Arabia, has taken a rhetorical hard line against Iran since taking office and has added some new sanctions on Tehran. But so far Mr Trump has not pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite calling it “the worst deal ever”.
The Trump administration has also promised to more aggressively confront Iran on issues beyond the nuclear question, including Iran’s support for internationally-recognised terrorist groups like Hizbollah.
Mrs Haley said the missile was fired on November 4 from Yemen towards Riyadh’s international airport and bore signs of Iranian production, including a lack of stabiliser fins and specific valve configurations. “The weapon might as well have ‘Made in Iran’ stickers all over it,” she said.
Her claims tracked with a report released recently by the UN, which also concluded that the weapon had Iranian parts. However, the UN was more cautious in accusing Iran’s government of direct involvement because of the missile parts.
Mrs Haley said the weapon was proof that Iran was violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which forbids it from developing missiles that could theoretically be used to deliver a nuclear weapon.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted shortly afterwards comparing Mrs Haley’s presentation to that made by Colin Powell, then US secretary of state, in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war.
When I was based at the UN, I saw this show and what it begat… pic.twitter.com/2sAsMB6o4m
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 14, 2017