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UN Security Council Renews Yemen Sanctions

FILE - A U.N. Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Dec. 15, 2017.

Russia has blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have called out Iran for violating an arms embargo against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

During a vote Monday, Russia wielded its veto against the British-drafted text. Bolivia joined Russia in voting against the measure, and China and Kazakhstan abstained.

The council instead unanimously adopted a Russian-written resolution that called for a simple one-year extension of the sanctions regime against Yemen and a renewal of the work of the panel of experts.

The Americans, British and French had led a widely supported effort in the council to hold Iran accountable for alleged weapons transfers to the Houthis, which have resulted in attacks against targets in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

“The wording advanced in the British draft is liable to have dangerous, destabilizing ramifications,” Russia’s ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told council members. “This will inevitably escalate regional tensions and lead to conflict amongst key regional players,” he warned.

“Russia’s veto today serves only to protect Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and spread its malign influence,” U.S. envoy Kelley Currie said of the defeat of the British text.

The independent panel of experts who monitor the implementation of sanctions concluded in its most recent report that Iran had failed to prevent weapons transfers to the Houthis. But it also found that the Saudi-led coalition had obstructed delivery of humanitarian aid with its air and sea blockade, and that some of its airstrikes violated international humanitarian law.

The war in Yemen enters its fourth year in March. The council will hear an update on Tuesday about the resulting humanitarian crisis.

More than 22 million Yemenis require humanitarian assistance, including over 8 million who are a step away from famine.

The United Nations has called repeatedly for the parties to stop fighting and give safe and unrestricted access to aid workers. Efforts to find a political solution are stalled.