Russia on Wednesday dismissed evidence presented by the United States and UN experts that Iran had supplied missiles to Yemen's Houthi rebels as inconclusive, AFP reported.
On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley brought Security Council envoys to a U.S. military base in Washington to view missile parts that the U.S. calls evidence of Iran’s illicit transfer of prohibited missiles to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Trump administration maintains that fragments from those missiles, recovered in Saudi Arabia after being launched from Yemen by the Houthis, contain markings proving they were Iranian-made, though some security experts have questioned whether the evidence is foolproof. Iran denies it is backing the Houthis.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Wednesday it was unclear whether missiles and weaponry used by the rebels were sent by Iran or whether they were shipped before the arms embargo on Yemen was imposed in 2015, casting doubt over the findings of a UN panel of experts.
"Iran is vehemently denying it is supplying anything to Yemen," Nebenzia told two reporters, according to AFP.
"Yemen hosts a pile of weapons from the old days. Many countries were competing to supply weapons to Yemen during the time of president Saleh, so I cannot give you anything conclusive," he argued.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen from 1990 to 2012, was killed in December by his former Houthi rebel allies.
Asked whether the case had been made for action against Iran, the ambassador answered "no."
A recent report by the UN panel of experts bolstered the U.S. claims when it concluded that Iran had violated the arms embargo on Yemen by failing to block missile supplies to the rebels.
The Trump administration has said it will seek action at the Security Council against Iran, although it has yet to specify what those measures may be.
Russia has the power to block sanctions by resorting to its veto power as one of the five permanent Security Council members along with Britain, China, France and the United States.
It has long been believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.
Earlier this month, the Houthi rebels threatened to prevent international boats from passing through the Red Sea if the Saudi-led Arab coalition continues its attacks on the rebels.