How Nikki Haley is pushing Europe to get tough on Iran

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley took her Security Council colleagues on a field trip in the US capital, complete with a lunch with President Trump. Did the Monday feel-good adventure make a dent?

Who knows? But it certainly should have — especially when it comes to Iran, which along with North Korea presents the most burning foreign-policy challenge for President Trump.

Haley took the ambassadors to a Washington base, Anacostia-Bolling, to show remnants of missiles shot from Yemen to Saudi Arabian territory that were sent there for examination. It was a compelling presentation: Indeed, one shard clearly displayed a “made in Iran” marking.

The tour demonstrated that the Iranians managed to give missiles to their Yemeni allies, the Houthis. As one council member, Britain’s Acting Ambassador Jonathan Allen, tweeted, Haley provided “clear evidence that #Iran missiles and other weapons [were] used by Houthis in #Yemen.”

That’s a clear violation of two Security Council resolutions. One bans all sales of arms to Yemen. The other forbids Iran to export weapons anywhere.

And that last one, part of Resolution 2231, is crucial for untangling Trump’s Iran dilemma.

Most Security Council members view the Obama-led nuclear pact with Iran as an untouchable piece of successful diplomacy. For Trump and Haley, it’s a deeply flawed deal in need of repair, if not scrapping. But it’s the Security Council’s view that matters.

The Iran deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is a non-binding roadmap anyone can drop at any time. Yet, weak as that may be, Obama knew he couldn’t convince the Senate to ratify it, so he took it to the Security Council instead — where it passed as Resolution 2231. It now stands as the only authority anchoring the deal in law.

Resolution 2231 erased many prior sanctions against Iran but several remain intact, including travel restrictions against Iranian figures and a call to refrain from ballistic missiles testing. It also bans Iranian “supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, maintenance or use of arms and related materiel” to other countries.

Haley showed council members on Monday that, at least in the case of Yemen, Iran is clearly violating that embargo.

Yemen isn’t the only place where Iran violates this arms-exporting ban. After all, Iran proudly provides weapons and equipment to its allied “resistance” — militias and terrorist organizations in Iraq, Gaza and Yemen. In Syria and Lebanon, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Tehran is advancing plans to build local arms factories. (Israel threatens to destroy them.)

And illicit arms-exporting isn’t the only way Iran violates Resolution 2231. For example, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, Gen. Qasem Suleimani, often pops up in Iraq, Syria, Moscow and other capitals, where he proudly takes selfies with local leaders. Yet, as the UN Secretary General periodically reports to the council, such visits outside Iran violate the travel ban on the general.

As the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies reported last week, the Iranians have also launched 23 ballistic missiles since July 2015, when the Security Council, in Resolution 2231, “called” on Iran to refrain from testing any ballistic missile “designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Iran’s defenders on the council, like Russia, claim such launches aren’t a violation: Iran, they claim, swore off nukes for (get this!) religious reasons, so those missiles must’ve been designed for, well, something else.

Obama-ites, Europeans and UN denizens consistently claim that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. But that means bupkis, because the only rules that apply are set not in the JCPOA roadmap but in the Security Council resolution — which Iran keeps brazenly violating.

After the trip, Haley said the “evidence continues to grow that Iran is blatantly ignoring its international obligations.” She vowed to “continue to call out Iran’s actions every chance we can.”

And with that, she may well chip away at the confidence with which council members often assert that Iran “fully complies” with the nuke deal.

Indeed, already Paris seems to be warming up to Trump’s idea of strengthening the deal. As French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters Tuesday, France is “strongly attached to the JCPOA” but it’s also “committed to addressing” the “ballistic-missile issue, as well as regional issues.”

Will all council members come around? Unlikely. But each time Haley and other members of the administration highlight Iranian violations of the only legal authority over the nuclear deal, they improve the chances it will get fixed.



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