On Dec. 14, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, gave a speech from a US military base in Washington standing in front of what she claimed was an Iranian missile delivered to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Haley claimed that the delivery of such weapons violated a 2015 United Nations Security Council resolution, vowing stronger action against Tehran. While most experts were skeptical of Haley’s claims, Iran was dismissive and answered back about US actions in Yemen.
Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, joked at a Dec. 17 press conference, “I don’t know if this lady who is America’s representative at the UN is an international specialist or missile specialist.” He continued, “She showed something and said the Iranians had done it. This is just a claim and it shows that this individual does not have the minimum scientific information.”
Velayati added, “Like President Trump, they make baseless and ridiculous comments. The Islamic Republic under no conditions has given missiles to Yemen.”
Brig. Gen. Ramazan Sharif, spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Dec. 17, “It’s been three years that Saudi Arabia has been dropping bombs on the people of Yemen and all the weapons are coming from the US and Europe. But the US representative shows one pipe and says it has the fingerprints of the Iranians on it while everyone knows that Yemen has considerable missile equipment from the Soviet Union and North Korea and has been known for its missiles in the region.”
Sharif viewed Haley’s comments as a strategy to make uninterrupted accusations in order to not leave a suitable time to respond and not give public opinion adequate time to ask questions about the accusations. Sharif said that immediately after the defeat of the Islamic State, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then Haley made her accusations. Sharif predicted that “every day they will present a new topic” in order to continue their media campaign.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted a picture of Nikki Haley standing in front of the missile juxtaposed with an infamous picture of former Secretary of State Colin Powell holding a vial during a 2003 speech at the UN making the case for the Iraq war. Zarif’s tweet was accompanied with the caption, “When I was at the UN, I saw this show and what it begat ...” Zarif was Iran’s ambassador to the UN from 2002 to 2007.
Zarif also tweeted a link to Iran’s Foreign Ministry website, which released an English-language report on Yemen titled “A refutation of alternative evidence. Case Study: Yemen.” The report outlines Saudi, US and UAE actions since the fighting there began in 2015. The report also claims that Yemenis are capable of tweaking or assembling their own missiles and that no missiles have entered Yemen via blockaded ports. The report also says neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia have given information as to when the alleged Iranian weapons were delivered or when they would have been used. Since the UN resolution passed in 2015, it would only be a violation if the missiles were delivered after that time.