Iran expands provision of ballistic missile technology to militias

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley gestures as she speaks in front recovered segments of an Iranian rocket during a press briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Thursday Dec. 14 2017 in Washington. Haley says

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday he does not see the need for a stepped-up military posture against Iran, the day after a top diplomat said evidence shows Tehran is supporting Huthi rebels in Yemen.

US officials have seized on a series of missile strikes by a Yemeni rebel group against Saudi Arabia as an opportunity to intensify global pressure on Iran.

Under the 2015 United Nations resolution on Iran's nuclear program, the supply, sale or transfer of ballistic missiles from the country must be approved by the United Nations security council on a case-by-case basis. Haley also showed parts the Defense Department said were from an attack in July on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia as further evidence that Iran "is defying the worldwide community, and not just one time".

Haley gestures as she speaks in front of recovered segments of an Iranian missile. This week the United Nations, too, put out its own report on Iran, which does not mirror the US findings. The Obama-era deal rolled back Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions in sanctions relief, but did not address Iran's missile-building or support for militant groups in the Middle East.

The crisis has deteriorated under Saudi Arabia's month-long blockade of desperately needed aid supplies in Yemen, where almost 70 percent of the population depends on foreign aid to survive.

The U.N. has repeatedly sanctioned Iran for its illicit proliferation.

"The weapons might as well have "Made in Iran" stickers on them", said U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, standing before parts of a ballistic missile that she said Iran delivered to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who then fired it at the Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia last month. The only known short-range ballistic missiles that don't have those fins are Iran's Qiam missiles, Haley said.

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In a statement, it called on the authorities to ensure the safety of the reporters and allow their families to see them.

Defense Department spokeswoman Laura Seal said the USA didn't know when the missile was exported from Iran, raising the possibility that it was delivered before the passage of the UN's 2015 resolution accompanying the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers including the U.S.

The equipment in the hangar is proof of Iran's malicious strategy, Seal said.

Iran's envoy to UN, Gholamali Khoshroo, said it was "fake and fabricated" evidence that illustrates America's "irresponsible, destructive and provocative role" in the region, according to a statement carried by Iran's official IRNA news agency. Spencer Ackerman, national security reporter for the Daily Beast, wrote: "Wonder when Iran holds its press conference to highlight all the American and British munitions the Saudis have used on hospitals, the Sanaa airport, etc".

A separate team of United Nations experts who inspected the missile fragments during a visit to Riyadh last month found a possible link to an Iranian manufacturer, the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group, which is on the United Nations sanctions blacklist.

The unprecedented presentation by the Pentagon is part of its follow-through on President Donald Trump's new Iran policy, which promises a far harder line toward Tehran.

The war took another chaotic turn this month with the breakdown of the wartime alliance between the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former president who retained significant influence in the country. Iran is operating through and supplying the Houthis in Yemen, officials said. With US support, a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Houthis on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognized government.

Haley cited a report from U.N. Secretary General António Guterres that she said illustrates U.N. certainty about Iran's behavior.

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