U.S. Calls for U.N. Action Against Iran Over Yemen Missile

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -

The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that information released by Saudi Arabia showed the missile fired in July was an Iranian Qiam, which she described as “a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict.”

Saudi-led forces, which back the internationally recognized Yemen government, have been targeting the Iran-allied Houthis in a war which has killed more than 10,000 people and triggered a humanitarian disaster in one of the region’s poorest countries.

Haley said that by providing weapons to the Houthis, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp‎s had violated two U.N. resolutions on Yemen and Iran. She said a missile shot down over Saudi Arabia on Saturday “may also be of Iranian origin.”

“We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations,” Haley said. It was not immediately clear what action the United States was calling for.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said Iran’s supply of rockets to militias in Yemen is an act of “direct military aggression” that could be an act of war, state media reported on Tuesday, remarks reflecting sharply heightened strains between Riyadh and Tehran.

Under a U.N. resolution that enshrines the Iran nuclear deal with world powers, Tehran is prohibited from supplying, selling or transferring weapons outside the country unless approved in advance by the U.N. Security Council.

A separate U.N. resolution on Yemen bans the supply of weapons to Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, two Houthi commanders, Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, his son, and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.”

The United States could propose people or entities to be blacklisted by the Security Council’s Yemen sanctions committee, a move that would need consensus approval by the 15-members.

Or it could put forward a new Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Iran. To pass, a resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, China or Russia.

A senior Iranian official, speaking in Paris on condition of anonymity, dismissed as “very childish” the accusations that Iran has transferred missiles to Yemen.

“Is it possible from a military point of view to send a very long missile to Yemen when all the ships surrounding Yemen are very much alert to intercept any shipments of arms to Yemen?” the official said. “The Saudis and their supporters know this is a fake story that Iran has sent missiles to Yemen.”