The missile that was Haley's backdrop was made in Iran, then sent to rebels in Yemen, she said
US military officials have previously said that Iran has supplied missiles to Houthi rebels
Standing in front of a display of recovered missile debris, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley presented what she called “concrete evidence” of Iran’s weapons proliferation on Thursday at a military base in Washington and called on the international community to join “a united front in resisting this global threat.”
The short-range ballistic missile serving as her backdrop was made in Iran, then sent to Houthi rebels in Yemen who fired it at a civilian international airport in Saudi Arabia, according to Haley.
“When you look at this missile … it is absolutely terrifying,” she said. These weapons “might as well have had ‘made in Iran’ stickers.”
Haley said that the US will build a coalition to look at what can be done to stop these “violations.”
“I can tell you we are not going to sit back and watch this,” she said.
The Pentagon displayed debris from what officials said were Iranian-made “Qiam” ballistic missiles fired from Yemen, one from July 22 and another on November 4, at King Khaled International Airport near the Saudi capital, Riyadh, as well as an anti-tank weapon and drone recovered in Yemen by the Saudis.
Officials explained in detail why the Pentagon believed the arms came from Iran, pointing to Iranian defense firms’ markings and unique designs of Iranian weaponry.
“The point of this entire display is that only Iran makes this missile. They have not given it to anybody else,” said Laura Seal, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “We haven’t seen this in the hands of anyone else except Iran and the Houthis.”
US military officials have previously said that Iran has supplied missiles to Houthi rebels, including a missile fired into Saudi Arabia that targeted Riyadh in November.
But the UN secretary-general’s latest report said experts are still “examining all information and material available from missiles fired at Saudi Arabia, but have not yet confirmed them to be Iranian-made.”
The Pentagon also displayed other weapons it said the Saudis had recovered in Yemen and that it argued had designs unique to Iran’s defense industry, including a small drone and components of an anti-tank guided missile, and a drone.
Seal said the US did not know when the missile had been exported from Iran, raising the possibility it was transferred to the Houthis before passage of the 2015 UN resolution that enshrined the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, including the US.
An annex to UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls on all countries to prevent the “supply, sale, or transfer of arms or related materiel from Iran by their nationals or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran” until 2020. That extended the existing arms export ban in place since 2007.
The US provides aerial refueling support to aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen. The US military also provides what it calls limited intelligence sharing to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from cross border attacks.
However, the Trump administration has also called on Saudi Arabia and its allies to do more to ease the suffering of the Yemeni people brought about by the years long civil war.
But Haley said Thursday that the weapons debris on display is proof of a “pattern of behavior” from Iran and evidence of UN Security Council violations.
“Iran believes they have been given a pass,” she said. “It is hard to find a conflict or terror group in the Middle East that doesn’t have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.”
The Iranian Mission called Haley’s remarks “baseless” and “categorically” rejected claims that Iran is in violation of the United Nations Security Council.
“Following a series of baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past 10 months, the US Ambassador to the UN once again today took the same line accusing the Iranian government of supplying the missile that hit Saudi Arabia on 4 November – an accusation that we categorically reject as unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive,” a written statement from the Iranian mission said.
A US official said prior to Haley’s remarks that the presentation is part of a new Trump administration effort to ratchet up pressure on Tehran as the administration weighs whether to stay in the Iran nuclear deal which was negotiated by the previous administration.
Saudi Arabia renewed its condemnation of the Iranian regime for its “support of its terrorist Houthi militias” following Haley’s remarks, according to a report in the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Thursday.
“Saudi Arabia calls upon the international community to take immediate action to implement the Security Council resolutions and to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its aggressive actions,” the SPA report said.
CNN’s Ryan Browne contributed to this report.