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Noose tightens around Iran with sanctions threat by US

From left, Head of Mission of People's Republic of China to the European Union Hailong Wu, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarifat, an unidentified Russian official, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. (U.S. State Department/Released)
May 15, 2020

The US has publicly threatened to trigger the restoration of all UN sanctions on Iran if the organization’s Security Council fails to extend an arms embargo on Tehran.

It is due to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

Brian Hook, the US special envoy for Iran, confirmed the strategy on Thursday, two weeks after an American official said that Washington had informed Britain, France and Germany of its intentions.

Hook wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “one way or another” the US would ensure the arms embargo remains in force. He said Washington has drafted a Security Council resolution and “will press ahead with diplomacy and build support.”

Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-based Iran expert and Arab News columnist, said: “If the UN arms embargo on the Iranian regime is lifted as scheduled in October, it would have drastic implications on the security and stability of the region.

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“The Iranian regime is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world and it has already been caught several times smuggling weapons to its militias and terror groups, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”

He added: “Imagine how Iran would intensify its deliveries of weapons to militia groups if the arms embargo on the regime is lifted. In addition, Tehran would most likely send intelligence, military and training teams to set up factories in other countries to facilitate the sale and use of these weapons.

“This would provide Iran with the opportunity to better influence and control the security, intelligence and political systems of foreign nations.”

Earlier, Washington accused Tehran of defying the UN resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal by carrying out a satellite launch last month, and of continuing to violate a UN arms embargo.

The US Mission to the UN made the allegations during an informal meeting of experts from the Security Council committee that monitors the implementation of the resolution. The US said the satellite launch, carried out by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps on April 22, defies the terms of the 2015 resolution, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The US described the Revolutionary Guard Corps as “a terrorist organization” and added: “Its leading role in Iran’s space program puts to rest Iran’s absurd claims that its space program is solely civilian in nature. It is not.”

The US also highlighted Iran’s violations of the arms embargo by “reminding council members that Iran continues to funnel weapons to proxy forces and terrorist groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain.”

It accused Houthi rebels of using Iranian technology several weeks ago “to again launch ballistic missiles and explosive drones into Saudi Arabia.”

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© 2020 the Arab News