Russia dismisses evidence of Iran-made missiles to Yemen
Russia on 31 January dismissed evidence presented by the US and UN experts that Iran had supplied missiles to Yemen's Houthi rebels as inconclusive, signalling it would oppose a bid to slap sanctions on Tehran.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said it was unclear whether missiles and weaponry used by the rebels were Iranian-made or whether they were shipped before the arms embargo on Yemen was imposed in 2015, casting doubt over the findings of a UN panel of experts.
Nebenzia said: ‘Iran is vehemently denying it is supplying anything to Yemen.
‘Yemen hosts a pile of weapons from the old days. Many countries were competing to supply weapons to Yemen during the time of President Saleh, so I cannot give you anything conclusive.’
Ali Abdullah Saleh was Yemen's leader from 1990-2012. He was killed in December 2017 by his erstwhile Houthi rebel allies.
Asked whether the case had been made for action against Iran, the ambassador answered ‘no.’
Nebenzia joined UN Security Council ambassadors on a visit to Washington recently to inspect debris from missiles that the US says were supplied by Iran to the Houthis.
The ambassadors had lunch with President Donald Trump, who urged the council to take steps to counter ‘Iran's destabilising activities’ in the Middle East.
A recent report by the panel of experts bolstered the US claims when it concluded that Iran had violated the arms embargo on Yemen by failing to block supplies of missiles to the rebels.
The Trump administration has said it will seek action at the Security Council against Iran, although it has yet to specify what those measures might be.
Nebenzia said: ‘If there is something we will see. How can we pass judgment prematurely before we know what it is about?’
Russia has the power to block sanctions by resorting to its veto power as one of the five permanent Security Council members along with Britain, France, China and the US.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley in December 2017 presented the missile fragments as ‘undeniable’ evidence that a ballistic missile fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels at Saudi Arabia in November was Iranian-made.