Four Powers Condemn Iran for Violating Arms Embargo on Yemen

The four Western powers that are parties to the Iran nuclear deal condemned Iran on Tuesday for violating an arms embargo on Yemen, a day after Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution that took aim at Tehran over its failure to abide by the U.N. sanctions, The Washington Post reports.

France, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States issued a joint statement saying Iran’s non-compliance, as described by a U.N. panel of experts, “poses serious risks to peace and stability in the region.”  The four countries called on Iran “to immediately cease all activities that that are inconsistent with or would violate the terms” of the 2015 council resolution authorizing the arms embargo.

The report in January by experts monitoring sanctions against Iran concluded that Iran was in “non-compliance” with the arms embargo because it failed “to take the necessary measures” to prevent the direct or indirect supply of missiles and drones to Houthi Shiite rebels fighting the Saudi-backed government.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Monday called the panel’s “selective and contentious conclusions” unverified and uncorroborated. And he warned that the resolution’s adoption would have “dangerous, destabilizing ramifications” in Yemen and “inevitably escalate regional tensions and lead to conflicts among key regional players.”

The Western powers made no mention of the Russian veto but expressed “grave concerns” about the panel’s findings on Iran, and noted its warning that the Houthis’ firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia “has the potential to turn a local conflict into a broader regional one.”

Iran has denied supplying weapons to the Houthis. Russia on February 26 vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Iran over the alleged violations, with Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya calling its conclusions “uncorroborated.”

“In spite of a mountain of credible, independent evidence showing Iran violated the Yemen arms embargo, resulting in a series of attacks on civilian targets, Russia prevented accountability and endangered the entire region,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, vowing to take action outside the UN against Iran.

The statement by Western powers condemning Iran on February 27 shows the United States has galvanized the support of major European allies, all of whom signed Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal along with Russia and China, for taking action to deter Iran’s ballistic-missile activities. The four powers said they have “grave concerns” about the UN panel’s findings that Iranian Qiam ballistic missiles were used by the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia several times last year.

The Saudis lead an Arab coalition that has backed Yemen’s government in its four-year civil war against the Houthis with a devastating bombing campaign since 2015. The Western powers said that the move by the Houthis to fire missiles into Saudi Arabia “has the potential to turn a local conflict into a broader regional one.”

The war in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa, and forced the internationally recognized government to flee and seek support from neighboring Gulf Arab countries. The UN has blamed the Saudi-led bombing campaign for much of the devastation and violence that has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, displaced 2 million people, and created what it has called the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis in the poor Arab country.

The Saudi-led coalition since last year has been blockading Yemeni ports in an effort to defeat the Houthis, in a move the UN says has exacerabated the near-famine conditions in the country. The Western powers in their statement called on all parties in the conflict to return to peace talks and comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, including allowing food and medical aid shipments into all of the country’s ports and airports.

U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of the nuclear deal unless it is made stronger and more is done to limit Iran’s ballistic-missile activities and involvement in regional conflicts. Unless more is done by U.S. allies to deter Iran, Trump has said he will stop waiving U.S. sanctions against Iran as required under the nuclear deal in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities.