Nikki Haley pushes UN to follow tougher US stance on Iran

US Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses a UN Security Council meeting, Sept 28, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - US Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday (Oct 18) to follow in the US footsteps and confront Iran over what she described as its "aggressive, destabilising and unlawful behaviour" in the Middle East.

The council met for its monthly debate on the region just days after US President Donald Trump refused to certify the Iran nuclear deal, leaving its fate to the US Congress.

"The United States has embarked on a course that attempts to address all aspects of Iran's destructive conduct - not just one aspect," Haley told the council.

"It's critical that the international community do the same."

Trump's decision has been sharply criticised by Washington's partners in the deal - France, Britain, China, and Russia - which sit on the Security Council as permanent members along with the United States. Germany is also a signatory.

The 2015 nuclear deal was unanimously endorsed in a Security Council resolution, placing the onus on the top UN body to ensure its implementation.

Haley accused Iran of "playing" the council by complying with technical provisions of the deal while threatening peace and security in the Middle East with its "outlaw behaviour."

The council has adopted a "dangerously short-sighted approach", Haley said.

"Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat."

"Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilising and unlawful behaviour. To do otherwise would be foolish," she said.


Haley pointed to arms sales and military support in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria as examples of Iranian violations of UN resolutions while singling out Iran's missile launches as "the regime's most threatening act."

The tougher US stance toward Iran provides an opportunity for the council to show that it will defend its resolutions and "change its policy toward the Iranian regime", she said.

Haley's appeal, however, failed to draw strong support.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia tersely reminded Haley that the Middle East debate is aimed at tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that she "didn't even mention the word Palestine".

Turning to Iran, Nebenzia warned that "attempts to dismantle the architecture of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme will lead to a negative reaction in the Middle East and beyond".

France did not mention the Iran nuclear deal, and warned against downplaying the importance of a Israeli-Palestinian deal to foster stability in the Middle East.

Britain said it was ready to address concerns about Iran's ballistic missile programme and regional activities, but warned against scrapping the nuclear deal altogether.

"We encourage careful consideration of the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement," said British Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen.

The nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided for a gradual lifting of sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

Iran's ambassador hit back, accusing Haley of providing "the wrong address when it comes to the root causes of insecurity in the Middle East".

At the "core" of the all conflicts in the Middle East is Israel's "occupation of Palestinian land," said Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo.

He argued that "no country had done more than Iran" in the fight against the Islamic State group and slammed the US administration for selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is waging war in Yemen.

Council members heard a briefing from UN official Miroslav Jenca, who welcomed the recent Palestinian unity deal and again criticised Israel for building new settlements in the West Bank.

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