A United Nations panel in a new report has concluded that Iran violated a UN arms embargo by directly or indirectly providing missiles and drones to Shi'ite rebels in Yemen, backing up accusations made repeatedly by the United States.
According to excerpts of the report obtained by diplomats and media on January 12, experts on the UN panel traveled to Saudi Arabia in November and December and examined remnants of missiles fired by Yemen's Huthi rebels in those months as well as in May and July.
The panel said it came to the conclusion that Iran had manufactured the weapons the Yemeni rebels fired at Saudi Arabia, which leads an Arab coalition fighting on the side of the government against the rebels in Yemen's civil war.
The panel said it found that design features of the missile debris were "consistent with those of the Iranian-designed and manufactured Qiam-1 missile" and "almost certainly produced by the same manufacturer."
The drones were "virtually identical in design" to that of an Iranian-made UAV manufactured by Iranian Aircraft Manufacturing Industries, said the report.
Moreover, the drones and missiles "were introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo" imposed by the UN in 2015, the report says.
"As a result, the panel finds that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in non-compliance with [the embargo] in that it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to the Huthi-Saleh alliance," the report said.
The panel added that one of the rebel missile attacks which targeted Riyadh's international airport "changed the tenor of the conflict and has the potential to turn a local conflict into a broader regional one."
Iran backs the Huthis in their three-year civil war against the government, but it has denied supplying the rebels with arms.
The United States has repeatedly charged that Iran is supplying the rebels with ballistic missiles in violation of UN resolutions, and has demanded that the UN Security Council take action to enforce the embargo and penalize Iran.
During a security council meeting on December 19, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the Huthis' repeated firing of missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia "a flashing red siren" demanding action at the UN.
Russia, however, has opposed taking any action on the issue.
The 79-page UN panel report paints a picture of devastation caused by the war in Yemen, which many view as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and casts blame on both sides.
"After nearly three years of conflict, Yemen as a state has all but ceased to exist," the report said, detailing how the war has caused misery among the 28 million citizens of the Arab world's poorest nation.
The UN has said more than 10,000 civilians have been killed in fighting and air strikes, more than 7 million are on the brink of famine, and over 19 million don't know where their next meal is coming from.
Meanwhile, medical infrastructure has collapsed, and a cholera outbreak has affected 1 million people, the UN report said.
The report said the panel saw "no evidence" that either side took measures "to mitigate the devastating impact" of attacks on civilians.
With reporting by AP and AFP