Explanation of Vote on a UN Security Council Resolution Extending Yemen Sanctions

Rodney Hunter
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 25, 2020


Thank you, Mr. President. I also want to thank the United Kingdom for preparing this timely and important resolution in such an inclusive and transparent manner. Thank you.

The United States voted today in favor of the resolution to extend the Council’s sanctions against the Houthis and others responsible for the conflict in Yemen. These sanctions support the UN’s efforts to find a political solution to this war, and they help us hold spoilers accountable. All Member States have an obligation to implement these sanctions in full. However, Mr. President, the reality is that one Member State continues to blatantly defy their obligations under this sanctions regime. In their recent annual report, the Yemen Panel of Experts concluded that the Houthis continue to receive weapons that have quote “characteristics similar to arms manufactured in the Islamic Republic of Iran” end quote.

This is not a new finding. For years, the Yemen Panel, together with the UN team monitoring UN Security Council Resolution 2231, has reported on the Houthis launching ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that are Iranian-designed. The Houthis did not just conjure up the ability to launch advanced weapons hundreds of kilometers into Saudi Arabia and other neighboring states. Iran has smuggled these weapons to the Houthis, and in the process, Iran has violated this Council’s targeted arms embargo on the Houthis, as well as the Council’s arms embargo on Iran.

And Iran’s violations continue. Last week, we discussed how the U.S. Navy interdicted additional 358 Iranian-made missiles and other weapons components likely on their way to the Houthis. This shipment was yet another example of attempts to smuggle a new Iranian surface-to-air missile system that the Panel of Experts reported on for the first time in its Final Report in January. So not only does Iran continue supplying weapons to the Houthis, but they are also increasing the sophistication of these weapons. Iranian weapons are deeply undermining the prospects for peace, and we must call them out for it.

This resolution also requests that the Panel of Experts prepare information on commercially-available goods that find their way into ballistic missiles, UAVs, explosive boats, and other weapons. We hope this information will help Member States and private companies exercise greater vigilance over the transfer of these items to Yemen. We also call on all Member States to help the Panel in collecting this information, which could ultimately bolster sanctions implementation. The resolution also rightly calls out abuses by the Houthis against the Yemeni people. The Panel of Experts has reported on a horrific campaign of sexual violence against women orchestrated by the Houthis. Today’s resolution condemns these crimes.

The Council also once again demands that the Houthis stop interfering with the work of the UN and other aid organizations, whose work is vital to keeping Yemenis alive. By mixing their own interests with humanitarian aid, the Houthis are putting the lives of the Yemeni people at risk. And for the first time, the Council has mentioned the Safer oil tanker in a Security Council resolution. This addition reflects the international community’s deep concern about the chance that this tanker could rupture, causing an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea. The UN has teams ready to inspect the tanker and help repair it, but the Houthis have not provided access to the vessel. Today’s resolution makes clear that the UN needs access and needs it now.

And finally, Mr. President, the United States stands by the UN’s efforts to provide assistance in Yemen. We encourage relevant entities to utilize the sanctions exemption in the provision, as appropriate, to ensure that their important work is carried out in compliance with the Security Council’s efforts to promote an end to this conflict. So once again, the United States reiterates our strong support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in helping reach a political solution to the conflict, and we call on the parties to exercise restraint and work to de-escalate tensions, so we can maintain prospects for peace.

Thank you, Mr. President