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At UN, US Envoy Cites ‘Laundry List’ of Iranian Bad Behavior

  • Margaret Besheer

United Nations Ambassador from U.S. Nikki Haley address U.N. Security Council meeting, Sept. 28, 2017, at U.N. headquarters.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley lashed out Wednesday at Iran for what she called a “laundry list” of bad behavior, and she criticized the U.N. Security Council for not holding Tehran accountable.

“Every six months the Security Council is presented with a laundry list of bad news but only somehow manages to only hear the good news,” Haley said, referring to the twice-annual report the U.N. secretary-general sends to the council on implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Haley spoke at a monthly council meeting that primarily reviews the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

Since arriving at the U.N. in January as President Donald Trump’s envoy, she has sought to highlight Iranian behavior and that of its regional proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, during the monthly session.

Last week, Trump said he could not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, and he opened the door to Congress re-imposing some or all U.S. unilateral sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the international agreement.

“Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat,” Haley said. “Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior — to do otherwise would be foolish,” she said.

She called Iran out for its support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and its supply of weapons to Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

In this photo from the Iranian Fars News Agency, a Qadr H long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is fired by Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, during a maneuver, in an undisclosed location in Iran, March 9, 2016.
In this photo from the Iranian Fars News Agency, a Qadr H long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is fired by Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, during a maneuver, in an undisclosed location in Iran, March 9, 2016.

Ballistic missiles

Even more troubling, she said, is Iran’s ballistic missile activity.

In July, Tehran launched a space launch vehicle that the United States, Britain, France and Germany — all parties to the nuclear deal — said was “inconsistent” with the U.N. resolution endorsing the agreement. The allies characterized it as a “threatening and provocative step” in a letter to the U.N. secretary-general.

Under the resolution, the international community “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any ballistic-missile-related activity that could carry nuclear warheads, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.

“Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits on its behavior,” Haley said. “And we have allowed them to get away with it. This must stop.”

Israel U.N. envoy Danny Danon also devoted his entire remarks to Iran, and he did not mention the situation in his own country and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Danon said the nuclear deal did not eliminate the threat of nuclear destruction.

“At its best, if Iran does not cheat on the agreement, the pact just delays the nuclear program,” he told council members.

He warned that Israel would take action if it felt threatened.

“We will defend our citizens, our values and our way of life, with all necessary force and the full power of our convictions,” Danon said. “If we are attacked by Iran, the regime will face no fiercer enemy than Israel.”

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia speaks to reporters after attending a Security Council meeting, Aug. 9, 2017, at United Nations headquarters.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia speaks to reporters after attending a Security Council meeting, Aug. 9, 2017, at United Nations headquarters.

Israel

He did not address Israel’s announcement this week of plans for more than 2,000 new housing units in the occupied West Bank or the conditional approval of building permits in Hebron. Israeli settlement activity is illegal under international law.

Nor did Danon mention the deal last week between feuding Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to reconcile, with Hamas ceding the administrative control it has had of the Gaza Strip for the past decade to President Mahmoud Abbas’ government.

Russia’s envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, indirectly chided Haley for focusing on the Iran deal and not mentioning the Palestinian issue.

“The agenda for the meeting today is the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question — at least this is what the paper in front of me states,” Nebenzia said. “The absence of even a reference to that is something that cannot infuse us with optimism.”

Of the handful of council members who did mention Iran, it was to express their continued support for the nuclear deal.

Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Gholamali Khoshrro, said the U.S. actions on the Iran deal have served to isolate it internationally.

“If we had hegemonic ambitions, the nuclear deal would never have been reached,” Khoshrro told the council. “The new U.S. administration approach and the recent dangerous strategy toward the deal and Iran run counter to all of these efforts, and intend to add another crisis to the regional issues.”

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