UNITED NATIONS – U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to adopt the Trump administration's comprehensive approach to Iran and address all aspects of its "destructive conduct" — not just the 2015 nuclear deal.
She told the council that Iran "has repeatedly thumbed its nose" at council resolutions aimed at addressing Iranian support for terrorism and regional conflicts and has illegally supplied weapons to Yemen and Hezbollah militants in Syria and Lebanon.
"Worse, the regime continues to play this council," Haley said. "Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits of its behavior, and we have allowed them to get away with it."
"This must stop," she said at the council's monthly meeting on the Mideast and the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Haley cited a long list of Iranian violations, including threatening freedom of navigation in the Gulf, cyberattacks, imprisonment of journalists and other foreigners, and abuses of its people by persecuting some religions and imprisoning gays and lesbians.
She called Iran's "most threatening act its repeated ballistic missile launches including the launch this summer of an ICBM enabling missile."
"This should be a clarion call to everyone in the United Nations," Haley said. "When a rogue regime starts down the path of ballistic missiles, it tells us that we will soon have another North Korea on our hands."
Haley said the Security Council has the opportunity to change its policy toward Iran.
"I sincerely hope it will take this chance to defend not only the resolutions but peace, security and human rights in Iran," she said.
"Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat," Haley stressed. "Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish."
The Security Council has endorsed the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal which caps its nuclear program for about 10 years, and the agreement has the support of U.S. allies and the four other veto-wielding council members — Britain, France, Russia and China.
But getting the Security Council to take action against Iran for violations of council resolutions banning the transfer of conventional weapons, and more broadly for what the U.S. considers its support for terrorists and human rights violations is unlikely. It would require support from Russia, which like Hezbollah is supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and has good relations with Iran.
Of the major powers, Britain was the only one to support the U.S. call for broader action against Iran.
Deputy British Ambassador Jonathan Allen said his country shares concern about Iran's ballistic missile program and regional activities and stands ready "to take further appropriate measures to address these issues in close cooperation with the U.S. and all relevant partners."
"We also look to Iran to engage in constructive dialogue to stop destabilizing actions and work toward negotiated solutions," he said.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia took aim at Haley and Israel's ambassador, Danny Danon, for focusing entirely on attacking Iran and the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, and ignoring the Palestinian issue, which "gives us cause for concern."
In a message clearly aimed at the United States, he said Russia is ready to address the nuclear deal and "we have questions for other delegations about how they implement the JCPOA." Iran has complained that the U.S. is not meeting its part of the agreement.
Nebenzia said the JCPOA has contributed to normalizing "the situation around Iran and provides additional impetus to the efforts to stabilize the situation in the region" — and attempts to dismantle the agreement "lead to negative reaction throughout the Middle East and beyond."
He strongly disagreed with Haley who told the council that "nearly every threat to peace and security in the Middle East is connected to Iran's outlaw behavior."
Nebenzia countered that threats in the Middle East "should not obscure the priority for us to resolve the Palestinian issue because it is fundamental if we want to normalize the situation in the region long-term."
Iran's deputy U.N. ambassador, Gholamali Khoshroo, echoed Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said earlier Wednesday he wouldn't respond to "nonsensical comments" by President Donald Trump. He said that "we are not going to waste our time on answering the rants of the brute nature" by Haley.
Khoshroo said Iran's offers to end conflicts in the region "fell on deaf ears" but he stressed that "no country has done more than Iran" to fight against the Islamic State extremist group and prevent it from forming "an anti-Islamic caliphate from Damascus to Baghdad." And he said Trump recognized this during his campaign.
But "the hostile policies" of the U.S. and its regional allies, especially Israel, "that have turned the region into a tinderbox require the Islamic Republic of Iran not to be complacent about the country's defense needs," he said.
"If we had hegemonic ambitions," Khoshroo said, "the nuclear deal would never have been reached."