US threatens Iran with UN sanctions if arms embargo ends

The US has threatened to impose UN sanctions on Iran if the arms embargo is not extended. Though Europe has condemned US sanctions on Iran, they have also agreed to keeping the embargo intact.

UN sanctions on Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Wednesday of a return of UN sanctions on Iran if the Security Council fails to extend an arms embargo expiring in October.

The United States has put forward a resolution to extend the embargo on conventional weapons but faces opposition from veto-wielding Russia and China, which stand to win contracts with Tehran.

US determined to place UN sanctions on Iran

“Our focus now is to work with Security Council to pass this resolution,” Pompeo told reporters.

“But, in the event it doesn’t happen, we remind the world that the Obama administration’s officials said very clear(ly) that the United States has the unilateral ability to snap back sanctions into place,” he said, confirming US intentions.

Read more: Iran flays UN for dropping Arab coalition from blacklist

Pompeo, generally more known for his partisan attacks on the previous administration, quoted both former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state John Kerry on the right of the United States to impose sanctions if Iran violates the embargo.

The five-year ban on selling conventional arms was part of a 2015 resolution in support of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Obama and Kerry, from which President Donald Trump pulled out.

The Trump administration has made the novel case that the United States remains a participant in the nuclear deal — hence able to initiate the snapback of sanctions — as it was mentioned in the 2015 resolution, despite later withdrawing.

Europe opposes US sanctions but extends arms embargo

Iran, which already faces sweeping unilateral US sanctions, warns that the US-triggered reimposition of UN sanctions — whose validity is sure to be questioned by other countries — would mark the end of the nuclear accord.

Iran denies any intention to build nuclear weapons and says it needs conventional weapons to defend itself in a hostile region.

The UN resolution proposed by the United States would condemn Iran over a September 2019 attack against oil facilities in regional rival Saudi Arabia.

Europe on Friday toughened its stance on Iran and warned the US against sanctions in the latest bid to stop the unravelling of the international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The decision by Germany, France and Britain to back a UN arms embargo extension on Iran follows growing tensions with Tehran since US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord and introduced new sanctions

Read more: Iran nuclear dispute: Europe refuses to back US sanctions

France, Britain and Germany, which all still support the nuclear deal, said last week that they supported extending the arms embargo.

The three European signatories to the Iran nuclear deal said they had reservations about lifting the arms embargo, a blow to Tehran which had been calling for an end to the restrictions.

Iran agreed with major world powers in 2015 to halt its nuclear programme in return for an end to crippling sanctions. But since Trump pulled out of the deal, Iran has begun to roll back its own commitments, fuelling US criticism it wants to build nuclear arms, a claim Tehran denies.

The ban on selling weapons — such as battle tanks, combat aircraft, warships and missiles or missile systems — to Iran had been set to be progressively eased from October.

“We believe that the planned lifting of the UN conventional arms embargo established by Resolution 2231 next October would have major implications for regional security and stability,” the European ministers said.

But the European nations, who remain committed to the nuclear deal, also said they opposed Washington’s “maximum” pressure tactics with sanctions.

IAEA inspection blocked

The Vienna-based IAEA expressed “serious concern” in a report earlier this month that Iran has been blocking inspections at the sites.

Read more: Iran blocks IAEA inspection

Iran has accumulated enriched uranium at nearly eight times the limit of a 2015 deal and has for months blocked inspections at sites where historic nuclear activity may have occurred, the UN watchdog said earlier. This is a bad premonition for the future of the Iran Nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as Iran continues to defy the sanctions imposed by the United States, and is driving its erstwhile supporters (the remaining Western Nations) to within an inch of their patience.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted “with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to the Agency… to two locations,” according to an IAEA report.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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