By Michelle Nichols
(Reuters) - - Britain, the United States and France want the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran for failing to stop its ballistic missiles from falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group and commit to take action over the sanctions violations, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Saturday.
The draft text to renew U.N. 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 Friday, diplomats said.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been lobbying for months for Iran to be held accountable at the United Nations, while at the same time threatening to quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program if “disastrous flaws” are not fixed.
“Since the signing of the nuclear agreement, the Iranian regime’s support of dangerous militias and terror groups has markedly increased. Its missiles and advanced weapons are turning up in war zones all across the Middle East,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, wrote in an essay published in the New York Times on Saturday.
A proxy war is playing out in Yemen between Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels. Iran has denied supplying the Houthis with weapons. The draft U.N. resolution, which needs to be adopted by Feb. 26, is likely to face resistance from Russia. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to pass.
The Russian mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment on the draft resolution.
Independent U.N. experts monitoring the sanctions on Yemen reported to the Security Council in January that it had “identified missile remnants, related military equipment and military unmanned aerial vehicles that are of Iranian origin and were brought into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo.”
While the experts said they have “no evidence as to the identity of the supplier, or any intermediary third party” of the missiles fired by the Houthis into neighboring Saudi Arabia, they found Iran had violated sanctions by failing to prevent the supply, sale or transfer of the missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to the Houthis.
The U.N. Security Council has banned the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.” It can also blacklist individuals and entities for threatening the peace and stability of Yemen or hindering aid access.
Haley took her Security Council colleagues to Washington in January to view pieces of the weapons in a bid to boost the U.S. case against Iran. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said after the visit that he does not believe there is a case for United Nations action against Iran. Iran has described the arms displayed in Washington as “fabricated.”
“Some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it,” Haley wrote in the New York Times.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler)