Ambassador Christopher Lu, US Representative to the UN for Reform and Governance, addressed the Council yesterday on the pro-Iranian Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Lu said the Houthis have carried out more than 20 attacks since November 19, 2023, and targeted another container ship on January 3, despite losing 10 members in a clash with US forces after attempting to board a cargo ship on December 31.

"We also know that Iran has contributed significantly to the planning of operations against merchant ships in the Red Sea," Lu said, underlining that the Houthis have been able to continue their attacks due to Iran's advanced weapons systems, including drones, ground-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, in violation of UN sanctions, and its financial support.

Lu said the United States is not seeking a confrontation with Iran, but Tehran has two options: to maintain its current position or to withdraw its support for the Houthi attacks.

Lu said the Houthi attacks "have serious consequences for maritime security, international shipping and trade" and that it was vital for the UNSC to take urgent action on international law and freedom of navigation.

Events in the Red Sea

Following the recent actions of the Houthis, many shipping companies had decided to suspend their voyages in the Red Sea.

On December 6, 2023, the Pentagon announced that they were negotiating the establishment of an international "Maritime Task Force" against the attacks of Houthi forces in Yemen against commercial ships in the Red Sea, and on December 18, 2023, the Pentagon announced the creation of a multinational mission called "Operation Welfare Guardian".

While the Houthi attacks jeopardized the passage through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, offering the shortest route between Europe and Asia and where about 12 percent of global trade is carried out, the attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the successive decisions taken by companies raised concerns that a new "supply chain crisis" would begin in the global economy.