Politico

Pompeo lashes out as U.N. Security Council rejects extension to Iran arms embargo


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday condemned the United Nations Security Council for rejecting a U.S. resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

The council voted to allow the 13-year embargo to expire this October despite the protestations of the U.S., Israel and multiple Arab states.

The Security Council “rejected a reasonable resolution to extend the 13-year old arms embargo on Iran and 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,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable.”

Earlier Friday, Pompeo said allowing the embargo to expire would be “just nuts.”

A bipartisan group of 387 members of Congress urged the Trump administration in May to extend the arms embargo. House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel said at the time that “Iran continues to be a danger to the United States, our interests, and our allies. We need a realistic and practical strategy to prevent Iran from becoming a greater menace.”

Russia and China — two permanent members of the Security Council — had opposed the push for an indefinite extension. The Russian delegation asserted an extension would violate a UNSC resolution that endorsed the Iran nuclear deal. It argued the U.S. forfeited its right to negotiate the terms of an arms embargo under that resolution because it left the nuclear deal in 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the heads of the Security Council, Germany and Iran to meet to “outline steps that can prevent confrontation or a spike in tensions in the UN Security Council,” according to a statement from the country’s UN delegation.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom had also pushed back on a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on Iran if the Security Council voted to let the embargo expire. The U.S. negotiated the right to do so under the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. But the European countries argued the U.S. was not in a position to use the so-called snapback option after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

Speaking in Vienna on Friday, just as the Security Council started voting on the embargo extension, Pompeo brushed aside the Trump administration’s contentious withdrawal from the nuclear deal, saying Iranian arms dealings were a separate issue.

“We don’t think Iran has given any indication that it is in a place remotely where the world [should] sell them high-end weapon systems,” he said.

In his statement, the secretary characterized the Security Council’s vote as neglecting the needs of the Gulf states and Israel, who had also requested an extension to the embargo.

“These countries know Iran will spread even greater chaos and destruction if the embargo expires, but the Security Council chose to ignore them,” Pompeo said in the statement. “The United States will never abandon our friends in the region who expected more from the Security Council.”

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