U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the weapons parts are "undeniable proof" that Iran is arming Houthi rebels in Yemen. Photo courtesy Nikki Haley/Twitter
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Standing before large pieces of missile debris Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she said was "undeniable" evidence Iran is providing weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen.
She said the debris was from a short-range missile fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen into Saudi Arabia. The weapon hit a civilian airport.
"All of these weapons include parts made in Iran, some by Iran's government-run defense industry; all are proof that Iran is defying the international community," Haley said. "And not just one time. This evidence demonstrates a pattern of behavior in which Iran sows conflict and extremism in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
"The evidence is undeniable," she added, "The weapons might as well have had 'Made in Iran' stickers all over it."
Speaking at a news conference in a military hangar at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., said the debris was on loan from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which collected it. The Trump administration argues the debris is evidence of Iran's violation of a resolution the United Nations passed after Tehran and western countries agreed to a deal halting Iran's nuclear program in 2015.
Tehran, though, said the missile debris is "fabricated."
"Following a series of baseless accusations against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past 10 months, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. once again today took the same line accusing the Iranian government of supplying the missile that hit Saudi Arabia on November 4th -- an accusation that we categorically reject as unfounded and, at the same time, irresponsible, provocative and destructive," a statement from the government said.
The United States has repeatedly accused Iran of backing Houthi rebels in a nearly three-year civil war in Yemen. In April 2016, the U.S. Navy said it seized a shipment of weapons originating from Iran and heading to the Houthis fighting forces loyal to President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
In November, Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition of countries supporting Hadi, closed all airports and seaports in Yemen on suspicion the Houthis were smuggling weapons into Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has reopened some of the ports, but access for humanitarian shipments to Yemen have been restricted. Fighting in Yemen has led to a crisis in which civilians are facing famine and disease, with supplies further reduced by the blockade.
On Monday, the United Nations said 8 million people are "on the verge of famine."
Last week, an alliance between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke down, and militants killed Saleh at his Sanaa home.
The Hadi government controls much of eastern Yemen as well as the southern coast, including the second-largest city of Aden. Rebels control the west, including the capital of Sanaa.