The US’s demand to extend the arms embargo against Iran, due to expire in four months, has been rejected by the members of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) including China and Russia.
China and Russia are the permanent members of the UNSC who rejected the motion. The other permanent members of the UNSC – the UK and France – also failed to support the extension of the embargo against Iran.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that lifting the ban on the trade of conventional weapons would turn Iran into a “rogue weapons dealer,” supplying advanced weapons to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and fueling conflicts in Venezuela, Syria and Afghanistan.
“Iran will hold a sword of Damocles over the economic stability of the Middle East, endangering nations like Russia and China that rely on stable energy prices,” said Pompeo to the members via videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The arms embargo prohibits Iran from importing or exporting any kind of weapon. Pompeo characterised Iran as “the world’s most heinous terrorist regime” and said that it would develop and export weapons that would threaten the Middle East and European capitals.
“Iran is already violating the arms embargo, even before its expiration date. Imagine if Iranian activity were sanctioned, authorized by this group if the restrictions are lifted,” he said.
The embargo is part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the nuclear deal with Iran signed in 2015. Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in its facilities in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
In 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and started reimposing sanctions. However, the Trump administration is now threatening to “snap back” U.N. sanctions if the embargo is not extended. “Having quit the JCPOA, the U.S. is no longer a participant and has no right to trigger a snapback at the Security Council,” said China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia also criticised the strategy saying that the task is to achieve regime change or create a situation where Iran literally wouldn’t be able to breathe. “This is like putting a knee to one’s neck”, referring to the killing of George Floyd after a police officer knelt on his neck.
Even the Europen Union allies of the US that supported extending the embargo said that they do not support the reimposition of new sanctions on Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed that expiration of the arms embargo was an integral part of the 2015 nuclear deal and demanded the US to compensate Iran for the damage its sanctions have inflicted on the economy.
“The international community in general — and the U.N. Security Council in particular — are facing an important decision,” he said. “Do we maintain respect for the rule of law, or do we return to the law of the jungle by surrendering to the whims of an outlaw bully?”
In the latest move to disrupt ties, the US is seeking to seize the four tankers sailing towards Venezuela with gasoline supplied by Iran. In May, defying the US sanctions, Iranian vessels successfully shipped gasoline to South American country, Venezuela.
Mojtaba Zonnour, representative of Qom in the Iran Parliament celebrated then, saying that the arrival of Iranian tanker, carrying gasoline, to Venezuela showed the message of authority and dignity of the Iranian nation to the world.