Russia's United Nations envoy says his country does not believe Washington has made a sufficient case that Iran has supplied missiles to Yemen’s Huthi rebels, indicating he would oppose increased sanctions against Tehran.
Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia made the comments on January 31 after traveling to Washington to examine evidence, including fragments of missles that the United States says Iran gave to the Huthi rebels, who then fired them toward U.S. ally Saudi Arabia in November.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on January 29 took her 14 Security Council colleagues to a military facility near Washington to examine the evidence.
When asked if there was a case against Iran at the UN, Nebenzia said, "No."
The comments come despite a conclusion by a UN panel on January 12 supporting U.S. claims that Iran violated a UN arms embargo by directly or indirectly providing missiles and drones to the Shi'ite rebels in Yemen.
Experts on the UN panel traveled to Saudi Arabia in November and December and examined remnants of missiles fired by the Huthis on several occasions.
The U.S. administration has been pushing for the UN to hold Tehran accountable for supplying the weapons, while also threatening to pull out of a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief if the accord’s "disastrous flaws" are not remedied.
Asked about potential new sanctions, Nebenzia said that "we only heard some vague talk about some action."
"If there is something [proposed] we will see. How can we pass judgment prematurely before we know what it is about?"
Sunni-led Saudi Arabia has been engaged in what has been labeled a proxy war with Shi’ite Iran in Yemen.
Iran has denied it has supplied its allies, the Huthis, with weapons.
Nebenzia said Yemen has been littered with weapon from many conflicts over the years and that he could not determine “anything conclusive.”
"I am not an expert to judge," he said.
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters