Security Council faces rival drafts on Iran missiles to Yemen

Desiree Steele
March 1, 2018

Russian Federation vetoed a United Nations resolution citing Iran as a violator of an arms embargo on Yemen's Houthi militia Monday.

Bolivia joined Russian Federation in voting against the measure while China and Kazakhstan abstained.

The Security Council's Panel of Experts earlier determined that Iranian-origin weapons had been introduced into Yemen after the United Nations -embargo went into effect and that Tehran has failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the transfer of ballistic missiles, other military equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles to the country.

The experts examined missile remnants fired into Saudi Arabia by the Houthis a year ago and said many "are consistent with those of the Iranian designed and manufactured Qiam-1 missile".

Illustrative image of tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels chanting slogans during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts to fight pro-government forces, in Sana'a, Yemen, January 3, 2017.

The row came as the United Nations panel of experts on Yemen, charged with monitoring a 2015 arms embargo, formally presented its latest findings, which concluded that Iran was breaching sanctions. The draft pledged action against violators.

"Russia doesn't like the outcome of certain expert panel reports", Jonathan Allen, UK deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters before the vote was scheduled to take place. The embargo was due to expire at midnight on February 26.

He urged council member not to "shy away from calling out those who violate" sanctions.

"We can not concur with uncorroborated conclusions and evidence which requires verification and discussions within the sanctions committee", Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council. "This will inevitably escalate regional tensions and lead to conflict amongst key regional players", he said.

After the veto, the council unanimously adopted a Russian-drafted measure that extended for one year sanctions related to Yemen, but that text made no mention of Iran.

Nebenzia concluded that a consolidated approach is necessary from all worldwide and regional governments, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, to deal with the fundamental issues in Yemen.

The text, strongly supported by the United States, won 11 favourable votes at the 15-member Security Council but was blocked by Russia's veto.

The Houthi movement has been defending Yemen against a bloody Saudi-led military campaign, which was launched in 2015 with the help of the United States and the UK to reinstall the country's former Riyadh-friendly government. While the panel accused Iran of flaunting the embargo by "failing to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply", it fell short of identifying the supplier of the weapons. It comes after Russian Federation vetoed a rival resolution that blamed Iran for fueling the conflict there.

The UNSC resolution aims to prolong the experts' mandate in Yemen, not to form an anti-Iran coalition in the region, Nebenzia pointed out. The United Nations says that some three thirds of the Yemeni population or 22.2 mln people are in need of assistance.

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