Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley Reuters

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday urged the Security Council to follow in Washington's footsteps and confront Iran over what she described as its "aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior" in the Middle East.

The Council met for its monthly debate on the region just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would not recertify the Iran nuclear deal, leaving its fate to Congress.

"The United States has embarked on a course that attempts to address all aspects of Iran's destructive conduct -- not just one aspect," Haley said, according to AFP.

"It's critical that the international community do the same," she added.

Trump's decision has been sharply criticized by Washington's partners in the deal -- France, Britain, China, and Russia -- which sit on the Security Council as permanent members along with the United States. Germany is also a signatory to the agreement.

The 2015 nuclear deal was unanimously endorsed in a Security Council resolution, placing the onus on the top UN body to ensure its implementation.

The UN's atomic agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has determined that Iran is committed to the agreement.

In her remarks on Wednesday, Haley accused Iran of "playing" the Security Council by complying with technical provisions of the deal while threatening peace and security in the Middle East with its "outlaw behavior."

The Council has adopted a "dangerously short-sighted approach", Haley warned.

"Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat. Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish," she said.

Haley pointed to arms sales and military support in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria as examples of Iranian violations of UN resolutions while singling out Iran's missile launches as "the regime's most threatening act."

The tougher U.S. stance toward Iran provides an opportunity for the council to show that it will defend its resolutions and "change its policy toward the Iranian regime," she said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon addressed the same meeting, accusing Iran of spreading terrorism and destabilizing the region.

“For 38 years, Iran has threatened and continues to threaten the world. Iran and its proxies butcher innocent people. When terror strikes, a trail of bloody footprints so often traces back to Iran. From Bangkok to Burgas, from Buenos Aires to Beirut, and all the way back to Tehran,” Danon said.

“Iran is guilty of sponsoring and endorsing worldwide terror, violating human rights, promoting antisemitism and seeking to destroy a UN member state – the State of Israel,” he added.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran must be found guilty on all accounts. Passing and enforcing resolutions can save innocent lives. It is the Council’s responsibility to implement them. You do not need to do this for Israel’s sake. If we are attacked by Iran the regime will face no fiercer enemy than Israel. It is the innocent people around the world who need you to act,” Danon concluded.