US bid to extend Iran arms embargo fails at UN Security Council

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The UN Security Council has rejected a US attempt to extend the 13-year arms embargo on Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

The deal will now expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal signed by Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the US.

The deal prevented Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief.

Mr Pompeo lambasted what he called the Security Council's "failure to act decisively" as "inexcusable".

The vote, he said, "paved the way for the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell conventional weapons without specific UN restrictions in place for the first time in over a decade".

"The United States will never abandon our friends in the region who expected more from the Security Council," he said, adding that the US would "continue to work to ensure that the theocratic terror regime does not have the freedom to purchase and sell weapons that threaten the heart of Europe, the Middle East and beyond".

The US on Tuesday had cut its draft resolution to only four paragraphs to gain more support for the embargo extension. It said it was "essential to the maintenance of international peace and security".

Outgoing US Special Representative Brian Hook had expressed concerns about the arms embargo expiring back in October.

Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran, expressed concern about the lifting of a UN arms embargo and other sanctions on Iran in October. Reuters

The GCC had backed America in its attempt and called on the UN to extend an international arms embargo on Iran, a move pushed strongly by the US.

The secretariat of the GCC said in a letter to the UN Security Council that Iran's continued interference in neighbouring countries made an extension necessary.

Iran “has continued to proliferate weapons across the region as an integral part of its expansionist regional policy and longstanding interference in the internal affairs of Arab states, including GCC member states, in clear violation of the UN Charter,” the GCC said.

If the US is unsuccessful it has threatened to try to bring back all UN sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, even though Washington withdrew from the accord in 2018.

The move could put the already fragile nuclear accord at further risk.

It was not immediately clear how Russia, China or any other Security Council members might try to stop the US from bringing on a return of the UN sanctions, or if there is any way they can.

Diplomats warn the process would be tough and messy.

They say several countries would argue that Washington legally could not activate a snapback of sanctions and therefore would not reimpose the measures on Iran themselves.

Updated: August 15, 2020 02:15 AM

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