By Patrick Goodenough |
(CNSNews.com) January 30, 2018 – As the administration on Monday showed foreign ambassadors alleged evidence of links between Iran and ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels in Yemen, an Iranian opposition group said it has received reports that the launches are occurring under the “direct orders” of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Citing sources inside the regime and the IRGC, the exiled Iranian opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran/People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran (NCRI/MEK) said the reports indicate that the missiles are being manufactured at factories affiliated to the IRGC’s aerospace division.
“According to these sources, the Houthis received training from IRGC and the Lebanese Hezbollah on how to handle and use the missiles,” the group said in a report, which also identified shipping companies said to be involved in smuggling Iranian weapons to Yemen and elsewhere – sometimes under other countries’ flags to avoid arousing suspicion.
Shipping any weaponry to the Houthis would contravene a 2015 U.N. Security Council resolution imposing an arms embargo against the Shi’ite militia’s leaders.
Furthermore, Iran’s transfer of missiles to any government or group abroad, without Security Council permission, would violate another resolution passed in 2015 – resolution 2231, the text that endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.
Houthi rebels have fired a number of missiles into Saudi Arabia, targeting among other things the seat of the kingdom’s government in Riyadh and its second-busiest international airport. Using U.S.-supplied air defense systems, the Saudis managed to shoot down the projectiles before they struck.
The Houthis enjoy Iranian backing while Saudi Arabia – Iran’s principal regional rival – heads a military coalition established in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s internationally-recognized government in its fight against the militia.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in the controversial airstrike campaign. The U.N. is calling Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley discusses evidence of Iranian involvement in ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia from Yemen, at Joint Base Anacostia-Boling in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 14, 2017.
Last month U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley held a press conference at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington DC to present evidence provided by the Saudi government, including fragments of the missile shot down near the airport which Haley said bore Iran’s “fingerprints.”
On Monday, Haley joined her counterparts from the other 14 U.N. Security Council member-states on another visit to the base, to examine the collated evidence.
“We wanted to bring the Security Council members to see the material so they could decide for themselves,” Haley said afterwards. “We believe what the council saw today makes it clear that the evidence continues to grow that Iran is blatantly ignoring its international obligations.”
“Iran’s aggression is a threat not just to its neighbors, but to the entire world – it cannot get away with this lawless behavior any longer,” Haley said. “We will continue to call out Iran’s actions every chance we can until they change course and abide by their commitments.”
Before hosting the Security Council envoys for lunch at the White House later, President Trump told reporters, “Earlier today, the ambassadors viewed a display of Iranian missiles and arms that the regime has transferred to its militant allies in Yemen.”
‘Nuclear capable’ missile violations
Haley at her press conference last month pointed out that one of the shot-down missiles had been aimed at a civilian airport “through which tens of thousands of passengers travel each day.”
“Just imagine if this missile had been launched at Dulles Airport or JFK, or the airports in Paris, London, or Berlin,” she said. “That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what Iran is actively supporting.”
Iran has repeatedly denied sending missiles to Yemen, calling the U.S. claims “baseless and ridiculous.”
Among the items on display at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling are fragments believed to be unique to Iran’s Qiam missile, along with debris stamped with the logo of the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group, a U.S.- and U.N.-sanctioned Iranian missile manufacturer.
According to the NCRI/MEK, the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group has two manufacturing facilities in Tehran and one in Parchin, a military installation in the desert near the capital.
It says the group produces parts for ballistic missiles including the Qiam, as well as various types of surface-to-surface missiles which “are delivered by the IRGC to proxy groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.”
Iran’s ballistic missile activities in violation of international commitments go well beyond providing weapons to the Houthis.
A report last week by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) found that Iran, since finalizing the JCPOA in mid-2015, has test-fired at least 23 ballistic missiles, including ten medium-range ballistic missile (MRBMs).
“All of Iran’s MRBMs are nuclear-capable, and can strike U.S. bases and partners in the region when fired from Iranian territory,” said the report’s author, FDD Iran analyst Benham Ben Taleblu.
Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA, called upon Iran not to carry out launches of missiles “designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.”