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John Ismay, Helene Cooper — New York Times Dec 14, 2017

America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley with alleged Iranian missile remains. Click to enlarge

The Trump administration tried to mount a case on Thursday that Iran violated an international agreement to limit its arms dealing, but American officials failed to show how an array of weaponry presented as evidence proved the charges.

Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, accused Iran of providing weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen who toppled the government in Sana, throwing the country into chaos and setting off a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

At a military base in Washington, Ms Haley stood in front of pieces of what defense officials said were Iranian-made Qiam missiles, including one that was fired by Houthi militants at an airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials have called that attack an “act of war” by Iran.

“When you look at this missile, this is terrifying, this is absolutely terrifying. Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK,” Ms Haley said, naming Washington-area and New York airports, “or the airports in Paris, London or Berlin.”

Ms Haley said that the weapons on display were declassified by the Pentagon so that the Trump administration could rally other countries to crack down on Iran. Without saying exactly what the administration is seeking, she vowed that “you will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing.”

Her accusations were the latest step by the Trump administration’s effort to punish Iran for its ballistic missile program and destabilizing actions throughout the Middle East.

Asked what international agreements Iran was violating, Ms Haley cited the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231. Passed in 2015, it bars Iran from supplying, selling or transferring certain weapons outside the country unless approved by the Security Council. It also prohibits Iran from transferring weapons capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

But the evidence she showcased at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling — four weapons provided to the American government by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — fell short of proving her claims.

Defense officials said they could not say exactly when the weapons — the Qiam missiles and an anti-tank missile and a drone that were both recovered in Yemen — were given to the Houthis, which means that they could have been transferred before the Security Council resolution was enacted. And in some cases, the officials said that they could not say when the weapons were used.

Defense officials were also unable to say exactly where or when the drone, a broken Qasef-1, was found. It was evidently turned over without its warhead or guidance system.

Additionally, none of the weapons displayed were capable of delivering nuclear warheads, said Jeffrey Lewis, an analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

“It’s not a nice thing for Iran to do, but that’s not the standard,” Mr Lewis wrote in an email, referring to Iran’s transfer of weapons to the Houthi rebels.

Ms Haley also said that the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, has failed to curb Tehran’s support for terrorist groups. President Trump has disavowed the deal but has declined to tear it up, as he promised to do during his campaign.

Defense officials were unable to say exactly where or when this broken-apart Qasef-1 drone was found. Click to enlarge

Defense officials were unable to say exactly where or when this broken-apart Qasef-1 drone was found. Click to enlarge

 

Continues …

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