U.S. to pursue diplomacy toward Tehran: Mattis

December 16, 2017

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that Washington will pursue a “diplomatically-led effort” toward Tehran, a day after a top U.S. diplomat claimed Iran was supplying weapons to the Houthis in Yemen.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, on Thursday accused Iran of arming the Houthis, in violation of UN sanctions, during a news conference held at a Washington-area military warehouse where U.S. defense officials put weapons fragments on display.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mattis said such evidence would not lead to an expanded military response from Washington.

“Not militarily right now, no,” Washington Examiner quoted Mattis as saying. “It’s the reason Ambassador Haley was there and not one of our generals.”

He also said it was “healthy” for the international community to know “what Iran is up to”, accusing Iran of contributing to the deaths of innocent people, in reference to the Yemeni conflict.

“Ambassador Haley was revealing evidence – physical evidence, debris – that we got our hands on that shows they have been providing ballistic missiles to the Huthis,” the U.S. defense minister said. “Everywhere you find turmoil, you find Iran’s hand in it.”

Meanwhile, UN officials who examined debris from the missiles said they could not conclude that they came from an Iranian supplier.

Tehran, which openly champions the Houthis in Yemen, has repeatedly denied accusations that it was supplying weapons to the Yemeni fighters.

On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad rejected Haley’s allegations, saying the United States and its regional allies are responsible for the plight of the Yemeni people.

“While #Iran has been calling for ceasefire, aid and dialogue in #Yemen from day 1, U.S. has sold weapons enabling its allies to kill civilians and impose famine,” Zarif tweeted. “No amount of alternative facts or alternative evidence covers up U.S. complicity in war crimes.”

Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, backed by certain Western countries including the United States, launched a military campaign against Yemen in 2015. The Saudi-led military campaign has so far killed thousands of civilians and left millions of people on the verge of starvation. 

According to the UN, the situation in Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis across the world, as two-thirds of the country’s population need aid and more than seven million people are hungry.

U.S. is the main supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia in the war on Yemen. 

Some consider the U.S. an accomplice in the Saudi-led war crimes in Yemen.

According to the Washington Post, both the United States and Britain have been making more money with arms sales to Saudi Arabia in recent years than ever before. Human rights critics fear that Saudi Arabia has not only bought their weapons but their acceptance for its policies. 

MH/PA
 

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