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US urges UN to punish Iran, but Russia says no sanctions

Nikki Haley said the council could strengthen the resolution, adopt a new one to prohibit all Iranian ballistic missile activity,

By: AP | United Nations |
December 20, 2017 8:35:01 am
US urges UN to punish Iran, but Russia says no sanctions US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speak in front recovered segments of an Iranian rocket during a press briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington. (Source: AP Photo)

US Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the Security Council on Tuesday to punish Iran for what the Trump administration calls its ‘dangerous violations’ of UN resolutions and ‘destabilizing behavior,’ while Russia said dialogue is needed rather than threats or sanctions.

Haley told a council meeting on implementation of the resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that in the coming days the US will explore a number of options with council members to pressure the Iranians ‘to adjust their behavior.’

Haley said the council could strengthen the resolution, adopt a new one to prohibit all Iranian ballistic missile activity, explore sanctions ‘in response to its clear violation of the Yemen arms embargo,’ and hold the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accountable for violating numerous council resolutions.

While the United States ‘continues to uphold its commitments’ under the nuclear agreement, she said the international community must take action to address Iranian actions such as its arms sales, ballistic missile launches and support for terrorism.

But Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said that what is needed to implement the resolution on the nuclear deal is ‘to abandon the language of threats and sanctions, and to start using the instruments of dialogue – and concentrate on broadening cooperation and mutual trust.’

The Security Council was discussing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report on implementation of the 2015 resolution. The UN chief said Iran was complying with the nuclear deal with the US and five other world powers, but he warned that Tehran may be defying a UN call to halt ballistic missile development.

Guterres said the United Nations is investigating Iran’s possible transfer of ballistic missiles to Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen that may have been used in launches aimed at Saudi Arabia on July 22 and November 4.

Safronkov stressed that the resolution makes no demand – it calls on Iran not to carry out ballistic missile activity that could be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

He accused the UN Secretariat of carrying out investigations without prior Security Council approval, saying it ‘has neither the authority nor the expertise’ and the information obtained ‘cannot be considered accurate.’

Safronkov said a Russian initiative for ‘a system of collective security’ and confidence building measures in the Middle East is relevant today.

He also said Guterres should implement a resolution adopted at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1987 calling on the secretary-general to recommend ways to increase security and stability in the region.

Last week, Haley displayed what she said was ‘undeniable’ evidence that Iran was supplying Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen with missiles used in the Saudi attacks.

On Tuesday, she called the Houthis’ firing of a ballistic missile earlier in the day aimed at Saudi Arabia’s leaders meeting in the capital of Riyadh “a flashing red siren” for the Security Council.

While not all the evidence is in, ‘it bears all the hallmarks of previous attacks using Iranian-provided weapons,’ Haley said.

The US-backed Saudi-led coalition that is fighting the Houthis said it intercepted the missile. But Haley warned that “it is only a matter of time before one of these missiles hits the target.”

“If we don’t do something, we will miss the opportunity to prevent further violence from Iran,” she said. “The international community must demonstrate that we are committed to ensuring accountability for the full spectrum of Iran’s malign behavior.”

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