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U.S. Envoy: 'Undeniable Evidence' Of Iranian Weapon Supplies to Yemeni Rebels

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (file photo)
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- The United States has concrete evidence that Iran was supplying weaponry to the Huthi rebels in Yemen, in violation of United Nations sanctions, the U.S. ambassador to the world body has charged.

At a December 14 news conference held at a Washington-area military warehouse where U.S. defense officials put weapons fragments on display, Nikki Haley also said "the evidence was undeniable."

"The United States is taking a new approach to Iran by focusing on all of the regime's destabilizing behavior. That means we are not just focused on a nuclear program. We are also taking a hard look at Iran's ballistic-missile program, its arms exports, and its support for terrorists, proxy fighters, and dictators," she told reporters.

The weaponry on display included remains of what the U.S. officials said was an Iranian-made short-range ballistic missile that was fired from Yemen last month at the international airport outside Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh. Other equipment on display included a drone and an antitank weapon that officials said was recovered in Yemen by Saudi forces.

"They might as well have had 'Made in Iran' stickers on them," she said.

The United Nations resolution passed in connection with the landmark nuclear deal prohibited Tehran from supplying, selling, or transferring weapons unless the Security Council approved it. A separate UN resolution bans the supply of any weapons to the Huthi rebel leader in Yemen.

Tehran, which views Saudi Arabia as an enemy and rival for power in the Middle East, has long denied accusations that it was supplying weapons, and called Haley's claim about the November 4 missile attack "irresponsible, provocative, and destructive."

"These accusations seek also to cover up for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen, with the U.S. complicity, and divert international and regional attention from the stalemate war of aggression against the Yemenis," a statement released by Iran's mission to the United Nations said.

Saudi-led forces back the Yemeni government, and have been fighting the Huthis in Yemen's ongoing civil war for more than two years. Saudi Arabia is one of Washington's closest allies in the Middle East and Washington is a major supplier of weaponry to the Saudi military.

The announcement came amid reports that a UN investigation into whether Iran supplied the two missiles Yemeni rebels fired at Saudi Arabia this year reached no firm conclusions.

The Associated Press and Agence France-Press have reported that UN officials examined debris from the missiles and said it pointed to a "common origin," but they could not conclude that they came from an Iranian supplier.

With reporting by AP and AFP