The United States on Thursday described remarks by a Palestinian Hamas leader boasting of strong military ties with Iran as a “stunning admission” that showed Tehran was violating a UN ban on arms exports.
Hamas leader Yahya al-Sinwar, who heads the Palestinian Islamist movement in Gaza, told reporters on Monday that Iran was the “biggest supporter of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
“The Iranian military support to Hamas and al-Qassam is strategic,” said Sinwar, adding that ties with Iran had “become fantastic and returned to its former era.”
In a statement, the US mission to the United Nations recalled that Iran is barred from exporting weapons under a key UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Once again, Iran is showing its true colors,” said US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Iran must abide by UN resolutions or decide “whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement,” she added.
“It’s long past time for the international community to hold Iran to the same standard that all countries who actually value peace and security are held to.”
A strong supporter of Israel, Haley has repeatedly criticized Iran at the United Nations and cast doubt over its commitment to the nuclear deal.
The United States considers Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, a terrorist organization.
Hamas has run Gaza since 2007 and received Iranian financial and military support for years, but the movement had distanced itself from Iran over Tehran’s strong backing of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Sinwar, however, has sought to rebuild relations, sending a high-level delegation to meet Iranian officials.