US to submit UN resolution to extend Iran arms embargo next week: Pompeo

The arms embargo is set to expire in October as part of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers.

al-monitor Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returns from a break during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to discuss the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2021 budget request for the State Department on July 30, 2020, in Washington.  Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images.

Aug 5, 2020

The United States will submit a resolution to the United Nations Security Council next week to ensure the arms sale ban on Iran is extended “one way or another,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today.  

“The Security Council’s mission is to maintain international peace and security. The council would make an absolute mockery of that mission if it allowed the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell weapons freely,” Pompeo said during a briefing with reporters.   

The 13-year-old arms embargo on Iran is set to expire Oct. 18 as part of the 2015 nuclear deal that removed most international sanctions in exchange for Iran scaling back its nuclear activity. 

Iran allies Russia and China are expected to veto any US-drafted arms embargo extension. Should they do so, Pompeo reiterated the State Department’s position that the United States can invoke a so-called snapback of UN sanctions. 

The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, allows for a return of sanctions though a complex process if Iran violates its obligations and a JCPOA participant files a complaint to the UN Security Council.

Critics have argued the United States lacks the legal authority to trigger this mechanism because it quit the accord in 2018. The Trump administration says it is technically still a participant state. 

“We’re deeply aware that snapback is an option that is available to the United States, and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that arms embargo is extended,” Pompeo said.

Since the US withdrawal from the deal, Iran has steadily enriched uranium beyond what is allowed. Tehran insists its nuclear program is used for peaceful purposes only. 

“For as long as Iran is allowed to enrich, we’re going to be having this discussion — how close is Iran to a nuclear breakout?” US Iran envoy Brian Hook told the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday. “We need to restore the UN Security Council standard of no enrichment.”

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