UNITED NATIONS — The four Western powers that are parties to the Iran nuclear deal condemned Iran on Tuesday for violating an arms embargo on Yemen, a day after Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution that took aim at Tehran over its failure to abide by the U.N. sanctions.
France, Germany, the United Kingdom and United States issued a joint statement saying Iran's non-compliance, as described by a U.N. panel of experts, "poses serious risks to peace and stability in the region."
The four countries called on Iran "to immediately cease all activities that that are inconsistent with or would violate the terms" of the 2015 council resolution authorizing the arms embargo.
The report in January by experts monitoring sanctions against Iran concluded that Iran was in "non-compliance" with the arms embargo because it failed "to take the necessary measures" to prevent the direct or indirect supply of missiles and drones to Houthi Shiite rebels fighting the Saudi-backed government.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Monday called the panel's "selective and contentious conclusions" unverified and uncorroborated. And he warned that the resolution's adoption would have "dangerous, destabilizing ramifications" in Yemen and "inevitably escalate regional tensions and lead to conflicts among key regional players."
The Western powers made no mention of the Russian veto but expressed "grave concerns" about the panel's findings on Iran, and noted its warning that the Houthis' firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia "has the potential to turn a local conflict into a broader regional one."
Yemen, with a population of 26 million, plunged into war in 2014 after the Houthis took over the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally recognized government to flee and seek support from neighboring Gulf countries.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition began what has turned into a devastating war that has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced 2 million, and created the world's greatest humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as an Iranian proxy.
The four countries also called on all parties to the Yemen conflict to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, to continue allowing humanitarian and commercial cargo into all of the country's ports and airports, and to return to peace talks.
The four Western powers signed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran along with Russia and China.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called it the worst deal ever and vowed in January he wouldn't issue more waivers of U.S. sanctions — a requirement under the deal — unless it is amended to prevent Tehran from gradually resuming a variety of currently banned nuclear activities.
Talks primarily with the European countries are taking place ahead of a mid-May deadline for new Trump waivers.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters in Honduras that the Russian veto "isn't going to make the decision on the nuclear deal."
"What I can say is it doesn't help," she said.