USA seizes Iranian missile parts bound for Houthi fighters

Clay Curtis
December 6, 2019

The buildup is part of Iran's widening effort to assert dominance in the Middle East and could pose a threat to American troops as well as allies in the region such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, U.S. sources told the Times.

The resolution cited by the European countries passed the same year Iran signed the nuclear deal with the United States, UK, Germany, France, Japan, China and Russian Federation, in which Tehran agreed to curtail its disputed uranium enrichment programme in return for relief from sanctions.

The British, German and French ambassadors to the U.N. Security Council, in a letter circulated on Wednesday, called on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to inform the Council in his next report that Iran's missile programme was "inconsistent" with a U.N. resolution underpinning the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers.

"We have repeatedly expressed our strong concerns on the subject of Iran's ballistic activities which do not conform with its obligations under U.N. Security resolution 2231 and constitute a threat to global security", Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily online briefing.

The intelligence officials said the missiles threaten United States allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as American troops stationed in the area.

Separately, The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Iran is taking advantage of unrest in neighboring Iraq to stockpile short-range ballistic missiles there.

Furthermore, the envoy argued that according to the terms of 2015's Security Council resolution 2231, none of the country's missiles are "designed to be" exclusively capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and are therefore not limited by the resolution.

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Iran has denied the allegation.

But the European letter says that video footage of a test posted on social media on 22 April showed the use of a Shahab-3 booster that was "a Missile Technology Control Regime Category-1 system", according to the Associated Press.

The deployment was meant to improve Iran's ability to retaliate against any Western or Arab attacks on its territory, as well as to expand its options for attacking opponents in the region, Reuters said at the time.

The U.S. has repeatedly accused Iran of smuggling arms to the rebels, who are battling the Yemeni government.

The letter surfaced at a time of heightened friction between Iran and the West, with Tehran rolling back its commitments under the deal step by step in response to US President Donald Trump's pullout from the pact a year ago and the imposition of a "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against the Islamic Republic that has crippled its economy.

Israeli and USA officials have warned Iran may be planning more attacks. If Iran were to face an attack, it could potentially strike back with the missiles stored outside its borders.

Agencies contribute to this report.

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