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US to seek UN vote on Iran arms embargo next week

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo (U.S. State Department photo by Freddie Everett)

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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States plans to hold a United Nations Security Council vote next week to extend an arms embargo on Iran, setting the stage for a crisis at the international body amid heightened Middle East tensions.

“There are nations lining up to sell weapons that will destabilize the Middle East, put Israel at risk, put Europe at risk, risk American lives as well,” Pompeo told reporters on August 5. “We’re not going to let it happen.”

The U.S.-drafted resolution seeks to extend an international arms embargo on Iran, which is set to be progressively eased beginning on October 18 under a Security Council resolution that enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

In the Security Council, veto-wielding Russia and China have said they oppose extending the arms embargo and have questioned Washington’s right to use a disputed legal move to force a return of UN sanctions on Iran.

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.

Pompeo and 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 and can therefore bring back sanctions since Iran has not fully complied with its nuclear commitments.

The U.S. position is likely to be fraught with difficulty because the United States quit the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran. In response, Iran gradually started breaching its nuclear commitments.

Russia and China, as well as European allies that were signatories to the nuclear pact, have questioned the U.S. claim it is still a participant able to trigger the snapback mechanism.

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.