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Pompeo warns UN about expiration of Iran arms embargo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks the press at the State Department in Washington, DC, on May 20, 2020.

NICHOLAS KAMM, AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES/TNS

By DAVID WAINER | Bloomberg News | Published: June 30, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged the United Nations Security Council to work together to extend an expiring arms embargo on Iran, warning Tehran would quickly become a greater threat to the region if allowed to do so.

“This Chamber has a choice: Stand for international peace and security, as the United Nations’ founders intended, or let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire, betraying the U.N.’s mission and its finest ideals — which we have all pledged to uphold,” Pompeo told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Pompeo said the Islamic Republic’s government could move quickly to buy Russian fighter jets and upgrade its submarine fleet if the embargo expires. And he said Tehran would be “free to become a rogue weapons dealer, supplying arms to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the far reaches of Afghanistan.”

With the ban on arms transactions with Iran set to expire in October under terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.S. has weighed invoking a “snapback” provision in the accord that would reimpose all U.N. sanctions against Tehran if the Security Council doesn’t renew the weapons ban indefinitely. Russia and China — both veto-wielding members of the council — have already warned they won’t support the move.

“The United States’ overwhelming preference is to work with this council to extend the arms embargo, to protect human life, to protect our national security, and to protect yours,” Pompeo told the council, without directly invoking the threat of a sanctions snapback.

Pompeo argued that Moscow and Beijing should recognize the threat of a better-armed Iran, saying Tehran would threaten stable energy prices they depend on for economic stability. He spoke ahead of an expected address from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in the day.

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