Russia resists UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

A draft resolution aims to renew UN sanctions on Yemen for another year

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya, left, speaks to American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley before a Security Council meeting on Iran, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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Russia has dismissed a western bid to condemn Iran for failing to block the purported supply of ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The United States, Britain and France want the United Nations to hold Iran accountable and commit to take action over the sanctions violations after a  UN report found that missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia were made in Iran.

"The United National Security Council should not condemn Iran in a resolution to renew sanctions on Yemen," Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Wednesday.

The draft resolution to renew UN sanctions on Yemen for another year would also allow the 15-member council to impose targeted sanctions for "any activity related to the use of ballistic missiles in Yemen".

Britain drafted the resolution in consultation with the United States and France before giving it to the full council on last Friday.

"It's a resolution about the extension of the working group, not about Iran. So we should concentrate on extending the working group first," Mr Nebenzia said.

The council is expected to vote on the draft resolution next week.


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On Sunday, UAE air defences shot down a ballistic missile fired by Houthis in Yemen's south-eastern port city of Mocha. It follows an alleged claim that the rebels had fired a ballistic missile at a nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi, last December. The UAE, however, denied the show of force ever happened.

For months, the United States has been petitioning for Iran to be held accountable at the UN. At the same time the White House has threatened to abandon a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran's nuclear programme if "disastrous flaws" are not fixed. International inspectors, as well as the US itself, however, say Iran is abiding by its commitments the nuclear pact.

But Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said last week that it was time for the Security Council "to act".

"This report highlights what we’ve been saying for months: Iran has been illegally transferring weapons in violation of multiple security council resolutions," Ms Haley said in a statement.

Last month, Saudi Arabia shot down a ballistic missile fired by Houthis at the southern province of Najran. The missile was targeted at heavily populated areas but was destroyed in mid-air without any casualties.

And on January 5, the Iran-backed rebels fired a ballistic missile at Najran that was also intercepted by Saudi air defences.

While the report found that Tehran had violated the 2015 embargo by failing to block shipments of equipment made in Iran, the experts said they were unable to identify the supplier. Since the start of the Yemen conflict in 2015, the total number of missile attacks on Saudi Arabia by the Houthis has amounted to 88, according to the Kuwait News Agency.

Russia has the power to block sanctions by using its veto power it enjoys as one of the five permanent security council members, along with Britain, China, France and the United States.