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Iran is No. 1 sponsor of terrorism, US says ahead of UN arms-embargo talks

Kelly Knight Craft speaking at Independence Day celebration. (US Embassy Canada/Released)

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

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has called Iran “the world’s No. 1 sponsor of terrorism,” a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States plans to hold a UN Security Council vote next week to extend an arms embargo against Iran.

Ambassador Kelly Craft also warned Russia and China that they will become “co-sponsors of the No. 1 state that sponsors terrorism” if they use their veto to block the resolution to extend the embargo.

The United States hopes Russia and China “will see the importance of peace in the Middle East,” Craft said. But she added that the partnership between Russia and China was clear: “They’re just going to be promoting chaos, conflict, and mayhem outside their borders, so we have to just corner them.”

Craft and Brian Hook, the top U.S. envoy for Iran, briefed a group of reporters following Pompeo’s announcement on August 5 that the United States will call for a Security Council vote next week on a U.S.-drafted resolution to extend the arms embargo that is due to expire in October.

Hook announced hours after the briefing that he was stepping down.

The foreign ministers of Russia and China have indicated they intend to veto the resolution if it gets the minimum nine votes in the 15-member council. In letters last month to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council the two countries were sharply critical of the U.S. effort.

Pompeo told reporters on August 5 that there were countries “lining up” to sell weapons to Iran and warned that this would further destabilize the Middle East, put Israel and Europe at risk, and endanger U.S. lives.

If the Security Council doesn’t prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons when the embargo ends, Washington has said it will trigger a “snapback” of all UN sanctions on Iran. The snapback mechanism was included in the 2015 nuclear agreement in the event Iran was proved to be in violation of the accord, which provided sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Russia and China, as well as European allies that signed the pact, have questioned the U.S. claim it is still a participant able to trigger the snapback mechanism. The United States quit the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran. In response, Iran gradually started breaching its nuclear commitments.

Pompeo and other Iran hard-liners in Washington claim the United States remains a participant in the accord because it was listed as such in the 2015 resolution that enshrined the deal and can therefore bring back sanctions since Iran has not fully complied with its nuclear commitments.

Britain, France, and Germany are concerned about the arms embargo being lifted but have said they are trying to reach a compromise out of concern Iran will completely exit the nuclear deal and act on threats to pull out of a key nonproliferation treaty.