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Iran accuses US of trying to hide own role in Yemen war

Iranian FM shares report which blasts US for weapon sales to Saudi, but acknowledges Iranian, US components discovered in fired missiles
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier this week at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation emergency summit (AFP)

Iran's foreign minister accused the United States on Friday of trying to divert attention from its own responsibility for the deadly war in Yemen with claims of Iranian weapons shipments.

Mohammad Javad Zarif was responding to claims by US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday that a missile fired by Yemeni rebels at Riyadh airport on 4 November was "made in Iran".

Zarif shared a link in his tweet to report posted on the Iran’s UN mission website titled “A refutation of alternative evidence – Case Study: Yemen”. 

The six-page report acknowledges that the UN has found Iranian components in the fragments of the missiles in the 4 November attack – but also highlights that American components were found as well.

“On the basis of the logic presented by Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration, both the United States and Iran are thus apparently aiding Yemenis in their missile development,” the report argues.

The report also says that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have “instigated a humanitarian catastrophe of Biblical proportions” in Yemen which “constitute war crimes” – but particularly focuses on US arms sales, under both the Trump and Obama administrations, to Saudi Arabia.

Calls for actions, questions over evidence

On Friday, Saudi Arabia, which has led a military intervention in Yemen with US backing since March 2015, demanded immediate action against its regional arch-rival over the alleged missile deliveries.

"It is necessary to take immediate steps against the terrorist activities of the Iranian regime," said a government statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Haley said Washington had "undeniable" evidence that at least two missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by the Yemeni rebels and other weaponry had been manufactured in Iran.

But her comments went beyond the findings of a UN investigation which reached no firm conclusion on whether the missiles came from an Iranian supplier, saying only that they had a "common origin" to some Iranian designs.

Asked about Haley's claims that the evidence was irrefutable, Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, Olof Skoog, said: "She may be in possession of evidence that I have not seen. The information that I have up to now is less clear."

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The Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on rebel-held air and sea ports and borders in Yemen - as opposed to a naval-only inspection system imposed last year - in response to the 4 November missile attack.

The latest blockade has only been partially lifted, intensifying what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

More than 8,750 people have been killed since the coalition launched its intervention, most of them civilians, according to the World Health Organisation.

Some 8.4 million people are "a step away from famine", the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, warned on Monday.

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