Intel: Why US is hosting Iran weapons display

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Nearly a year after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley first rolled out a tableau of Iranian ballistic missiles at a military base in Washington to warn of the threat from the Tehran-backed Houthis in Yemen, the Donald Trump administration today added to the installation.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is using the display in an effort to call out Iran’s alleged actions through proxy groups across the Middle East. Unveiling the additions to the display, including a ballistic missile used in an alleged attack on Saudi Arabia and two drones, State Department special representative for Iran Brian Hook said the fragments are “very important for nations to see with their own eyes.” Hook said that representatives from 70 nations have visited the installation since December. “We are one missile attack away from a regional conflict,” Hook said. “The international community needs to do more to get after the proliferation of Iran’s missiles.”

Stunt? At today’s press conference, Hook tried to beat back criticism that the display was little more than a dog and pony show. “I haven’t heard anyone say this is a political stunt,” he said. “This is simply putting out in broad daylight” Iran’s malfeasance. He went on to invite “anyone who remains on the fence to visit this weapons display.”

Chaos on Capitol Hill: The unveiling comes as the Trump administration and Congress are deadlocked over US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which the Senate moved to end Wednesday. In a statement of administration policy opposing the bill, the White House said the measure “would harm bilateral relationships in the region and negatively impact the ability of the United States to prevent the spread of violent extremist organizations such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and [the Islamic State] in Yemen.”

What’s next: The Trump administration is still trying to push the Houthi rebels to the bargaining table. The UN hopes to convene peace talks as early as next week in Sweden.

Know more: Read Pentagon correspondent Jack Detsch’s latest on why the US is asking the UN to pull a limited ceasefire resolution in the Yemen conflict and congressional reporter Bryant Harris wrap-up of Wednesday’s Senate vote.

Jack Detsch

Found in: Yemen war

Jack Detsch is Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent. Based in Washington, Detsch examines US-Middle East relations through the lens of the Defense Department. Detsch previously covered cybersecurity for Passcode, the Christian Science Monitor’s project on security and privacy in the Digital Age. Detsch also served as editorial assistant at The Diplomat Magazine and worked for NPR-affiliated stations in San Francisco. On Twitter: @JackDetsch_ALM, Email: jdetsch@al-monitor.com.

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