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U.S., Allies Press UN To Punish Iran For Houthi Access To Missiles

Newly-recruited Huthi fighters rally in Yemen in 2017.

The United States, Britain, and France are pushing the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran for failing to prevent its missiles from falling into the hands of Houthi rebels in Yemen.

According to a draft resolution seen on February 17 by the Reuters news agency, the three allies also want the Security Council to commit to take action against Iran over sanctions violations related to the missiles.

The resolution would allow the 15-member council to impose targeted sanctions for “any activity related to the use of ballistic missiles in Yemen.”

Diplomats told Reuters that the draft resolution was given to the council on February 16.

The draft would need to be adopted in the Security Council by February 26, although it is likely to face resistance from Russia.

A resolution needs nine votes to pass but can be vetoed by any of the permanent members -- Russia, China, the United States, France, or Britain.

Russia’s UN mission was not immediately available for comment on the draft resolution, Reuters reported.

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line on Iran during his campaign and into his administration.

He has warned that the United States would withdraw from a 2015 nuclear pact signed between Iran and world powers unless European allies and the U.S. Congress fix what he called "disastrous flaws" in the deal, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in return for restraints on its nuclear program.

The Trump administration has also said it is "committed to enact effective and lasting restraints” on Iran's ballistic missile program, which Western officials claim can easily be converted by Tehran to further its nuclear weapons effort.

The U.S. administration has heightened its verbal attacks on Tehran in recent days.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, warned that Iran is creating and arming a powerful network of proxies in countries like Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.

"What’s particularly concerning is that this network of proxies is becoming more and more capable, as Iran seeds more and more...destructive weapons into these networks," McMaster told the conference.

"So the time is now, we think, to act against Iran," he said.

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, wrote in a piece in The New York Times published on February 17 that “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.”

Yemen is the battleground for what has been called a proxy war between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally.

Iran has denied allegations it has supplied its allies, the Houthi rebels, with weapons, although the United States has displayed sections of what it said were Iranian-made missiles that the rebels fired toward Saudi Arabia.

In January, a report by a UN panel of experts found that Iranian ballistic missiles and other weapons were introduced into Yemen and that Iran failed to take measures needed to prevent those weapons from reaching the rebels.

The Security Council has banned the supply of weapons to the Houthi and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.”

With reporting by Reuters, The Financial Times, and CBS