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Pompeo blasts Iran at UN Security Council session on Middle East security

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends the UN Security Council meeting on Iran at the United Nations, in New York City on December 12, 2018. (Ron Przysucha/State Department)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically singled out Iran in a speech on August 20 at a UN Security Council session on Middle East peace and security challenges.

He accused Tehran and its proxies of fomenting “terror and unrest” in conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen “with devastating humanitarian consequences.”

If the UN allows an arms embargo on Iran to expire in October 2020, Tehran will be “unshackled to create new turmoil.”

The UN’s provision includes a travel ban for Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force – the foreign branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

A travel ban is also in effect for 23 other Iranians.

“We believe that the UNSC has an important role to play to ensure that the arms embargo and the travel ban are continued,” Brian Hook, the U.S. envoy for Iran, told reporters in New York ahead of Pompeo’s remarks.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated since President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 international accord to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions and instead reimposed sanctions on the country that target the country’s oil and financial sectors.

“Since the U.S. declared our intention to bring all Iranian oil purchases to zero in April, the ayatollah has gone all-in on a campaign of extortion diplomacy,” he said, noting that Iran has breached limits imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, test-fired a ballistic missile in July, and seized tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

In turn, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the United States of destabilizing the Middle East region with a heavy military presence and an “unbridled flow of American weaponry.”

“Therefore, in order to secure our borders and interests, we will vigorously exercise our inherent right to self-defense,” he told the Security Council.

Meanwhile, the European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal – Britain, Germany, and France – have tried to salvage the accord.

Reuters cited diplomats who said Russia and China will likely use their veto powers in the Security Council to protect Iran from any action.