U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, on Thursday, presented what she described as “undeniable” evidence of Iranian weapons supplied to Yemeni rebels in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The proof she pointed to included parts and debris from a short-range ballistic missile, an antitank guided missile, an unmanned aerial vehicle and exploding boat technology that have markings and features indicating origins in Iran.
“As you know, we do not often declassify this type of military equipment recovered from these attacks, but today we are taking an extraordinary step of presenting it here in an open setting,” she said, standing in front of one of the missiles in a hangar at the Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. “We did this for a single urgent purpose: Because the Iranian regime cannot be allow to engage in its lawless behavior any longer.”
U.S. officials have long accused Iran of supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has been embroiled in civil war since 2015.
Experts generally agree Iran is supplying weapons to the Houthis, but debate the extent to which Iran supports the rebels beyond that.
The Trump administration has taken a hard line against Iran, including refusing to certify to Congress in October that Tehran is in compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
Haley described Thursday’s press conference as in line with Trump’s October speech in which he also pledged to clamp down on Iran’s ballistic missile program, arms exports and support for destabilizing actors across the Middle East.
The missile Haley stood in front of, she said, was fired on the airport outside Riyadh in November. That attack prompted Saudi Arabia to impose a blockade on Yemen that has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis there.
The missile lacks stabilizer fins and has nine valves, and the only known short-range ballistic missile in the world with those qualities is the Iranian Qaim.
“Those valves are essentially Iranian finger prints,” Haley said, adding there are also stamps from an Iranian manufacturer on missile debris.
The other evidence includes materials from an antitank missile than can travel 2 miles, a kamikaze drone that can take out radar sites and a Shark-33 explosive boat that has a warhead inside that explodes upon impact with another vessel.
“All of these weapons include parts made by Iran, some by Iran’s government-run defense industry,” Haley said. “All are proof that Iran is defying the international community.”
Specifically, Haley cited U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which was passed in support of the nuclear agreement and imposes limits on Iran’s missile program.
“The Iranians are not supposed to be exporting any missiles or any related materiel,” she said.
The National Security Council is working on ways to respond to the violation along with the departments of State and Defense, and the administration continues to work with Congress on Iran legislation, she said.
Though the material presented Thursday focused on Iran’s support for the Houthis, Haley alluded to the United States eventually releasing evidence on Iran’s activities in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.
“We’re not just seeing activity in Yemen. What we’re also seeing is activity in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and we’ll be able to show all of those. And there is more coming,” she said. “This is not it. There is a lot more uncomfortable evidence that the international community will look at and realize how dangerous this is.”
She also said foreign delegations have come or are planning to come to view the evidence on display Thursday.
“What I’ve seen from our foreign partners is that while they were just so worried about the United States getting out of the nuclear deal and so worried about the president decertifying, now they actually see that the president was right,” Haley said. “They all know that this could have hit any one of their airports.”