Outgoing U.S. envoy says U.N. needs to 'push' Iran on arms embargo

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power addresses media following a United Nations Security Council vote, at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council needs to push Iran to abide by an arms embargo, outgoing U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said on Wednesday amid U.N. concerns that Tehran has supplied weapons and missiles to Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.

Most U.N. sanctions were lifted a year ago under a deal Iran made with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to curb its nuclear program. But Iran is still subject to an arms embargo and other restrictions, which are not technically part of the nuclear agreement.

In her last appearance at a public Security Council meeting before U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration steps aside on Friday, Power said that recognizing “progress on Iran’s nuclear issues should not distract this council from Iran’s other actions that continue to destabilize the Middle East.”Under a Security Council resolution enshrining the 2015 deal, the U.N. secretary-general is required to report every six months on any violations of sanctions still in place.

U.N. political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman briefed the 15-member council on the second U.N. report and said there had been no reports of nuclear-related or ballistic missile-related violations of the council resolution.

However, the report expressed concern that Iran may have violated the resolution by supplying arms to Hezbollah. Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator said in 2015 that Tehran had no intention of complying with the arms embargo or ballistic missile restrictions.

“We on the council need to come together to push Iran to effectively implement the binding provisions of resolution 2231 - especially restrictions that ban Iran’s export of arms and related material,” said Power. She did not specify how.

The council could impose further sanctions over breaches of the arms embargo, but Russia and China - which are council veto powers along with the United States, France and Britain - were unlikely to agree to such a move, diplomats said.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to scrap the nuclear agreement or seek a better deal. Trump’s nominee to replace Power, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, said it would be better to review the deal rather than withdraw from it.

She also told lawmakers at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday that Iran should be held accountable for sanctions violations. She said: “Anytime that we put sanctions forward we should follow through on those when there are violations.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish