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Russia Opposes U.S. Bid To Condemn Iran Over Supply Of Yemeni Arms

An Iranian "Qiam" missile that the Pentagon says was fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemeni Huthi rebels
An Iranian "Qiam" missile that the Pentagon says was fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemeni Huthi rebels

Russia is opposing a bid by the United States and its allies to include language condemning Iran for allegedly violating an arms embargo imposed on Yemeni rebels in a UN resolution renewing that embargo this month.

"We don't like condemnations at all, in general," Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said on February 21. "The resolution is about Yemen...not about Iran."

The UN Security Council is negotiating over a draft resolution offered by Britain in consultation with the United States and France that would condemn Iran for violating the arms embargo on Yemen's Huthi rebel leaders and include a council commitment to take action over the violation.

The United States has been lobbying for weeks for the UN council to hold Iran accountable for allegedly supplying weapons to the Shi'ite Huthi rebels, who have been battling Yemen's government in a civil war for years.

A UN panel of experts last month corroborated U.S. allegations that ballistic missiles the Huthis fired at Saudi Arabia last year were manufactured in Iran. It said Iran violated the arms embargo, if not by supplying the missiles directly to the Huthis, by allowing the weapons to fall into Huthi hands.

While Iran openly backs the Huthis, it has denied arming them.

Britain's draft resolution would threaten action against Iran for "failing to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer" of short-range ballistic missiles, drones, and other military equipment to the Huthis, UN diplomats said.

The Security Council is expected to vote on the draft resolution next week, as the existing arms embargo is due to expire on February 26.

Russia, as one of five world powers sitting permanently on the security council, has the power to block any new sanctions against Iran by vetoing the resolution.

The Yemen conflict has turned into a proxy war between Iran and its regional rival Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally which intervened in the civil war in 2015 by putting together a Gulf Arab coalition to wage air strikes against the Huthis on behalf of the Yemeni government.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers unless more is done to curb Iran's ballistic missile development and role in such regional conflicts, saying the agreement's failure to address such matters is among its "disastrous flaws."

The draft resolution offered by Britain would expand the Yemeni arms embargo to include "any activity related to the use of ballistic missiles in Yemen."

But UN diplomats say Russia is opposing such language in negotiations over the text, with one UN diplomat telling Reuters that Russia views Britain's draft text as "unacceptable."

With reporting by AFP and Reuters