Four Western powers have condemned Iran for allegedly violating an arms embargo on Yemen a day after Russia vetoed a UN resolution taking aim at Tehran over the same issue.
France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and United States issued a joint statement late on February 27 saying that Iran's failure to comply with the arms embargo, as determined by a panel of UN experts last month, "poses serious risks to peace and stability in the region."
The four countries called on Iran "to immediately cease all activities" that run counter to the 2015 United Nations resolution imposing the embargo on Yemen's Huthi rebel leaders.
The UN experts last month found Iran was not complying with the embargo because it failed to prevent missiles and drones Iran manufactured from falling into the hands of the Shi'ite rebels, who are allied with Tehran.
Iran has denied supplying weapons to the Huthis.
Russia on February 26 vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Iran over the alleged violations, with Russia's UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya calling its conclusions "uncorroborated."
"In spite of a mountain of credible, independent evidence showing Iran violated the Yemen arms embargo, resulting in a series of attacks on civilian targets, Russia prevented accountability and endangered the entire region," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, vowing to take action outside the UN against Iran.
The statement by Western powers condemning Iran on February 27 shows the United States has galvanized the support of major European allies, all of whom signed Iran's 2015 nuclear deal along with Russia and China, for taking action to deter Iran's ballistic-missile activities.
The four powers said they have "grave concerns" about the UN panel's findings that Iranian Qiam ballistic missiles were used by the Huthis to attack Saudi Arabia several times last year.
The Saudis lead an Arab coalition that has backed Yemen's government in its four-year civil war against the Huthis with a devastating bombing campaign since 2015.
The Western powers said that the move by the Huthis to fire missiles into Saudi Arabia "has the potential to turn a local conflict into a broader regional one."
The war in Yemen began in 2014 when the Huthis took over the capital, Sanaa, and forced the internationally recognized government to flee and seek support from neighboring Gulf Arab countries.
The UN has blamed the Saudi-led bombing campaign for much of the devastation and violence that has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, displaced 2 million people, and created what it has called the world's biggest humanitarian crisis in the poor Arab country.
The Saudi-led coalition since last year has been blockading Yemeni ports in an effort to defeat the Huthis, in a move the UN says has exacerabated the near-famine conditions in the country.
The Western powers in their statement called on all parties in the conflict to return to peace talks and comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, including allowing food and medical aid shipments into all of the country's ports and airports.
U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening to pull out of the nuclear deal unless it is made stronger and more is done to limit Iran's ballistic-missile activities and involvement in regional conflicts.
Unless more is done by U.S. allies to deter Iran, Trump has said he will stop waiving U.S. sanctions against Iran as required under the nuclear deal in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear activities.
With reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP