US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (AP/Mary Altaffer) AP/Mary Altaffer)
Nikki Haley

Haley stressed that the US will not “turn a blind eye” to Iran’s violations of the nuclear deal.

The United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) praised Iran on Thursday for implementing the controversial nuclear deal with six major powers, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley accused Tehran of “destructive and destabilizing” actions from ballistic missile launches to arms smuggling.

The speeches at a Security Council (UNSC) meeting on implementation of a UN resolution endorsing the July 2015 nuclear agreement showed the deep division over Iran between the five major powers, who view the deal as a major achievement, and the Trump administration, which is reviewing it.

President Donald Trump, Congress and Israel have assailed the agreement as a windfall to Iran that only delayed its pursuit of nuclear weapons. US lawmakers say it saved Iran’s economy by lifting economic penalties and allowed the country to funnel more money to terrorist groups.

Haley said the US would adhere to the deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear program while conducting the comprehensive review. She focused on what the US views as Iran’s repeated violations of the 2015 resolution, which she accused the Security Council of ignoring. She also cited ballistic missile launches and illicit procurement of missile technology as well as “proven arms smuggling.”

“Iran’s destructive and destabilizing role in the Middle East goes far beyond its illicit missile launches,” Haley stated. “From Syria to Yemen and Iraq to Lebanon, Iran’s support for terrorist groups continued unabated. Iran’s weapons, military advisers and arms smugglers stoke regional conflicts and make them harder to solve.”

Iran’s ‘Less Positive Issues’

By contrast, the focus of UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman, EU Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida and ambassadors from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany was on Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement, though there were also expressions of concern about its missile tests and smuggling.

Britain’s deputy UN ambassador, Peter Wilson, called the Iran agreement “one of the most important diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”

He said the United Kingdom encourages all countries and parties to the agreement — a message that appeared especially aimed at the US — “to uphold their commitments, including ensuring that the Iranian people gain further tangible benefits from sanctions relief.”

But Wilson also said “some less positive issues” need to be addressed. He cited Iran’s Jan. 20 launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, reported violations of a ban on conventional arms transfers, including new evidence of an attempted arms shipment from Iran to Somalia, and multiple violations of a travel ban.

Haley stressed that the US will not “turn a blind eye” to such violations, vowing her country will interdict cargo prohibited under the UN resolution and continue to impose sanctions on Iran.

“The continuance of the Iranian regime’s destructive, destabilizing behavior will prevent it from ever having a normal relationship with the United States and the rest of the world,” she said. “And the regime’s continued oppression of its own people speaks volumes about its true nature.”

China and Russia, which hold veto power in the Security Council, are unlikely to agree to more punitive measures against Iran.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff