US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley briefs the media in front of remains of Iranian "Qiam" ballistic missile provided by Pentagon at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, US, December 14, 2017..
(photo credit: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Standing before an exhausted missile that Washington says was made in Iran, shipped to Yemen and fired at Riyadh’s international airport, Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, declassified the US government’s findings of Iran’s military activities in the region on Thursday, warning of its rapid expansion and broad ambitions.
In a speech in a warehouse at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in the US capital, Haley said the US intelligence community has uniformly and unequivocally assessed that Iran is supplying arms to Houthi rebels in Yemen illegally, against a series of UN Security Council resolutions restricting its export of arms and missiles. She presented not only the missile fired at the Saudi capital on November 4, but also unmanned “kamikaze” drones and explosive boats, all made with Iranian equipment.
“As you know, we do not often declassify this type of military equipment recovered from these attacks,” Haley said. “But today we are taking an extraordinary step of presenting it here in an open setting. We did this for a single urgent purpose: Because the Iranian regime cannot be allowed to engage in its lawless behavior any longer.”
Haley said that the missile fired at Riyadh bore the unique markings of an Iranian product: It lacked the stabilizer fins typically present in short-range missiles, she said, but that are absent from those made by Tehran. She further said that its components included stamps of Iranian manufacturers.
“You will see us build a coalition to really push back against Iran and what they’re doing,” Haley told a group of gathered reporters, noting that she had invited all members of the Security Council and several other governments to view the evidence. “The fight against Iranian aggression is the world’s fight.”
But while Haley described the material as “irrefutable” evidence of the “undeniable fact that the Iranian regime’s behavior is growing worse,” Iran’s government immediately claimed that the Trump administration was brazenly lying.
“These accusations seek also to cover up for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen, with the US complicity, and divert international and regional attention from the stalemate war of aggression against the Yemenis,” reads a statement from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations.
On social media, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif compared Haley’s speech to that of her predecessor, Colin Powell, at the UN in 2003, when he presented flawed evidence purporting to show Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program as a basis for the US invasion there one month later.
But Israel praised Haley’s event, characterizing the findings as proof of Iran’s regional aggression.
“Today’s revelations proved yet again that Iran’s dangerous presence in the Middle East is only growing despite their attempts to deceive the world,” Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement. “The threat of Iranian missiles stretches from the Persian Gulf, through Yemen, Syria and all the way to Lebanon and Gaza.”
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