UNITED NATIONS (AP) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to attempt to reintroduce UN sanctions against Iran if the UN Security Council does not adopt a resolution extending indefinitely the arms embargo on Tehran, which will expire in October.
Pompeo told a state news conference in Washington on Wednesday that, without extending the arms embargo, “Iran will be able to buy sophisticated weapon systems and become a favored arms dealer for terrorists and rogue regimes around the world. This is unacceptable. “
He spoke to a Security Council member on Wednesday afternoon prior to a private video briefing on the U.S. motion for a resolution to uphold the arms embargo on U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook and U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft.
Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal between Tehran and six superpowers in 2015 and re-imposed crippling U.S. sanctions in 2018.
A year ago, the US sent thousands of troops, long-range bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Middle East in response to what it called an increasing threat of Iranian attacks on US interests in the region.
The five other powers that have signed the nuclear deal – Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany – continue to insist, saying that the agreement is the key to continued inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and that Iran is being prevented from nuclear weapons Chase.
Lifting the arms embargo is part of the 2015 Security Council resolution endorsing the nuclear deal. The Security Council will discuss the implementation of the resolution on June 30.
Iran called Iran “the main state sponsor of terror” and said the US’s focus is on working with the Security Council to adopt the resolution.
“But if that doesn’t happen, I would remind the world that the Obama administration officials have said very clearly that the United States has the one-sided ability to reduce sanctions,” he said.
The 2015 nuclear deal contains a “snapback” clause that would restore all UN sanctions against Iran that were lifted or relaxed if the nuclear deal was breached.
The State Department said Hook pointed in his briefing to Iranian arms transfers and “Iran’s full range of malicious activities, including the direct attack on Saudi Arabia in September 2019,” which violate current restrictions. Drone strikes on September 14 hit two Saudi oil installations, which the US blamed on Iran.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has made clear Moscow’s opposition to a new arms embargo on Iran and has rejected the Trump administration’s ability to use the ‘backlash’ clause as ‘ridiculous’.
Nebenzia said the US withdrew from the agreement and “they have no right” to use any of its terms.
But Pompeo and Craft insist that the resolution makes it clear that the US reserves the right to use the “snapback” clause.
Diplomats said there was an exchange of views with the US on the one hand and Russia on the other during Wednesday’s closed briefing.
Some Western governments privately fear that maintaining an arms embargo will lead Iran to expel IAEA inspectors and continue developing nuclear weapons.
The latest IAEA report said Iran has continued to expand its supplies of low-enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The nuclear deal promised to give Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbing its nuclear program, which Tehran says it has not received, especially since the US withdrawal in 2018. Iran has slowly and openly breached nuclear restrictions to try to tackle the nuclear pressuring remaining countries into the agreement to increase incentives to offset US crippling sanctions.
The U.S. draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would prohibit Iran from supplying, selling, or transferring weapons or related material from its territory after the embargo ends on October 18.
It would also prohibit the other 192 UN member states from purchasing Iranian weapons or from allowing their nationals to train, provide financial resources or assistance related to “the supply, sale, transfer, production, maintenance or use of weapons and related equipment “to Iran unless they are approved by the Security Council at least 30 days in advance.
The draft would authorize all UN Member States to inspect cargo entering or passing through its territory at airports, seaports and free trade areas from Iran or going there if the Member State has “reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo” contains prohibited articles.
It would also condemn the September 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia “carried out by Iran” and condemn the December 2019 attacks on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk and the US Embassy in Baghdad. And it would deplore “Iran’s arms transfer to militias and other armed groups in the region” and demand that Iran stop these transfers immediately.
Washington DC diplomatic writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.
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