U.S. Calls on Security Council to Extend Iran Arms Embargo

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo speaks at a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, in March 2019.

The U.S. is calling for an extension of the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire later this year.

In a statement on his Twitter page over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called for the U.N. Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran, warning the international body that Iran will “start a new arms race in the Middle East.” He noted that the embargo will expire in six months and added, “The clock is ticking.”

The secretary of state said, “In the last year, Iran fired ballistic missiles at its neighbors, mined and captured oil tankers, smuggled weapons into conflict zones, and shot down a civilian passenger jet. We can’t risk Iran buying more advanced weapons and transferring their arsenal to irresponsible actors.”

Iran’s Ambassador to the U.N., Majid Takht Ravanchi, rejected the U.S. pressure, calling it a violation of U.N. resolution 2231, which enshrines the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Under the JCPOA, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, international powers agreed to lift the arms embargo on Iran in October 2020 as part of an incentive package for the country’s concessions on its nuclear program. The deal has mostly fallen apart, as the U.S. left in 2018, and the following year Iran began announcing that it would roll back compliance with the deal’s terms.

Russia and China, two other parties to the JCPOA, have not shown interest in extending the arms embargo. Both countries have sold arms to Iran in the past and are said to be looking to supply Iran with new military equipment once the embargo ends. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in March
that “[t]here are no grounds for” continuing the arms embargo past October 2020.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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