TEHRAN, Feb 27, (Agencies): Iran said on Tuesday that the vetoing of a UN resolution that would have criticised its role in Yemen represented another setback for the United States. Russia vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council on Monday that would have expressed concern over Iran’s failure to block supplies of missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels and called for “additional measures”.
“Based on a one-sided report, they intended to pass a resolution that referred to Iran, but they failed,” said Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi, according to the official IRNA news agency. “This is yet another failure by the US government to drag Iran to the Security Council,” he added.
The resolution was drafted by Britain, but strongly supported by the United States. “Over the past year the US government has tried many times to drag Iran to the Security Council and it has failed every single time,” said Aragchi, on the sidelines of an water conference in Tehran. In January, Washington called an emergency session of the Security Council to discuss protests in Iran, only to face strong criticism from other members who said the move was hypocritical and inappropriate. Later that month, a Security Council panel of experts released a report into missiles fired by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia, saying they were made in Iran.
The report did not say Iran had supplied the missiles, but said the country was still in breach of an arms embargo on Yemen by failing to stop them reaching the rebel group. “The biased allegation was absolutely clear in the way the report was formulated,” said Aragchi.
The investigating team had “made its own judgement even before travelling to Iran and hearing what we had to say. It was clear how others had influenced the report,” he said, without specifying who was to blame. After vetoing the British resolution on Monday, the Security Council unanimously adopted a Russiandrafted measure that extended the sanctions regime against Yemen for one year, but made no mention of Iran. “We will definitely continue our policies in the region in the way that serves our national interests,” Aragchi said. Iran supports the Houthi rebels who seized control of much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa in 2014, but denies direct military involvement. Regional rival Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen almost daily since 2015 in an attempt to dislodge the rebels.
The United States threatened unilateral action against Iran on Monday after the Russian veto. “If Russia is going to continue to cover for Iran then the US and our partners need to take action on our own. If we’re not going to get action on the council then we have to take our own actions,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters during a visit to Honduran capital Tegucigalpa. Haley did not specify what kind of action could be taken. The Russian veto was a defeat for the United States, which has been lobbying for months for Iran to be held accountable at the United Nations, while at the same time threatening to quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program if “disastrous flaws” are not fixed. “Obviously this vote isn’t going to make the decision on the nuclear deal. What I can say is it doesn’t help,” Haley said. “That just validated a lot of what we already thought which is Iran gets a pass for its dangerous and illegal behavior.” President Donald Trump warned European allies last month that they had to commit by mid-May to work with Washington to improve the pact. Britain drafted the failed UN resolution in consultation with the United States and France.
The initial draft text — to renew the annual mandate of a targeted sanctions regime related to Yemen — wanted to include a condemnation of Iran for violating an arms embargo on Houthi leaders and include a council commitment to take action over it. In a bid to win Moscow’s support, the draft that was vetoed had been weakened to simply “note with particular concern” the violation, which was reported to the council by UN experts monitoring sanctions. It received 11 votes in favor, two against — Russia and Bolivia — while China and Kazakhstan abstained. Russia has questioned the findings of the UN experts report, which was submitted to the council in January. A council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to pass. Following the failed vote on the British draft, the council adopted a rival Russian draft that did not mention Iran and simply renewed the UN sanctions regime on Yemen for a year. A senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the international community — and in particular, the Europeans — needed to do more to voice their concerns about Iran’s behavior. “We don’t have any illusions with regard to Iran’s policy towards Israel, Iran’s role in the region … and also what they do in terms of constructing ballistic missiles,” the diplomat said. “What we’re trying, and have to do … is to actually make these points even clearer than in the past.”