BFF-06 UN sanctions regime for Yemen renewed

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ZCZC

BFF-06

YEMEN-CONFLICT-UN-DIPLOMACY

UN sanctions regime for Yemen renewed

UNITED NATIONS, United States, Feb 26, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – The UN Security
Council on Tuesday renewed its sanctions regime on Yemen for another year,
after tense negotiations between Britain and Russia, which threatened to veto
any mention, even implicit, of Iran.

Thirteen countries eventually adopted the London-drafted resolution on the
sanctions, which now are in effect through February 2021. Russia and China
abstained.

The sanctions plan, which would have expired on Wednesday, includes the
extension of the mandate of UN experts who monitor the arms embargo imposed
in 2015.

The resolution also extends the measures that provide for the freezing of
assets and travel bans on targeted officials.

Talks had been ongoing for a week with little apparent difficulty, but
suddenly on Monday, Moscow said it could not support the text drafted by
London.

It threatened to use its veto and offered a counterproposal, diplomats
said.

Russia was up in arms over any mention of Iran, which backs the Huthi
rebels in their battle with government forces supported by a Saudi-led
military coalition.

A recent report from the UN experts who monitor the arms embargo said the
Huthis had been in possession since 2019 of new weapons — drones and cruise
missiles — with “technical characteristics similar to arms” produced in
Iran.

The report did not say whether the weapons were delivered to the Huthis
directly by the government in Tehran, which has repeatedly denied sending
them arms.

During the Security Council negotiations, Britain initially abandoned any
mention of Iran.

But then — shortly before the vote and after France and Belgium stepped in
to mediate — London agreed to omit any reference to the arms possessed by
the Huthis and their similarity to Iranian weapons.

Non-governmental organizations say the conflict in Yemen has claimed tens
of thousands of lives, most of them civilians. The UN says the war has
provoked the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

During the debate Tuesday, US representative Rodney Hunter accused Iran of
smuggling weapons to the Huthi rebels for years, thus violating the UN arms
embargo on Yemen and one imposed against Iran, too.

Britain and France criticized what they called Russia’s habit of
threatening to use its veto power and proposing a competing text so as to
have its way.

Veto power cannot become a negotiating tactic, said British Ambassador
Karen Pierce.

“If countries are going to engage in negotiations with us in detail and
then not support the text, then that in my mind is sharp practice,” Pierce
said.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denounced what he called an artificial
crisis. He complained that none of Russia’s concerns were taken into account
by the British and said the approach in this case could be one of “take it or
leave it.”

BSS/AFP/GMR/0822 hrs