Intel: Pompeo links Iran satellite launch to erosion of nuclear deal

al-monitor US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, US, April 22, 2020.  Photo by Nicholas Kamm/Pool via REUTERS.

Apr 27, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Iran’s recent launch of a military satellite into orbit during a phone call today with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian. The call came after Pompeo issued a strong statement over last week's launch, using it to start a full-court diplomatic press urging the United Nations to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“All peace-loving nations must reject Iran’s development of ballistic missile-capable technologies and join together to constrain Iran’s dangerous missile programs,” Pompeo said in a statement Saturday. “As a start, nations should support extending the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran.

Pompeo also called on the European Union “to sanction those individuals and entities working on Iran’s missile programs.”

Why it matters: The arms embargo is set to expire in October as the first sunset provision under the nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. While Iran is no longer in compliance with the accord, Europe has scrambled to salvage it. Still, France and Germany have also joined the United States in condemning the satellite launch. At the same time, the Pentagon downplayed the satellite’s capabilities today, with US Space Command head Gen. Jay Raymond likening it to “a tumbling webcam in space.”

What’s next: Proponents of the nuclear deal fear that the Trump administration will seek to use a UN snapback mechanism to reinstate bruising multilateral sanctions on Iran if it cannot convince Europe, Russia and China to extend the arms embargo. The State Department released a legal opinion in December arguing that the United States could trigger UN snapback sanctions even though it has withdrawn from the accord.

Know more: As Iran triples its uranium stockpile past the deal’s limits, Congressional Correspondent Bryant Harris details how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has managed to get several key Democrats on board with the Trump administration’s push to extend the arms embargo.

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