Iran threatens to give ‘firm response’ if U.S. extends arms embargo

May 4, 2020 - 14:35

TEHRAN - Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned on Monday that Iran will give a “firm response” if the United States extends arms embargo against Iran and take Iran’s dossier to the UN Security Council.

“Iran will give a proper and firm response if its dossier is taken to the Security Council and the arms embargo is extended,” Mousavi said in a press conference.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on April 29 that the United States will not allow Iran to buy or sell conventional arms after a UN embargo expires in October, in a move that could prompt Tehran to pull out the 2015 nuclear deal and a major nonproliferation treaty.

The ban on selling conventional weapons to Iran ends on October 23 under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Mousavi said that the U.S. is no longer a party to the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, to invoke arms embargo against Iran.

“The United States is no longer a party to the nuclear deal. The United States has a record of violating international agreements in history and the JCPOA is one of them. This unilateral approach shows that it is a regime which does not believe in rule of law and international law,” Mousavi explained.

In a report on April 26, The New York Times said Pompeo is preparing a legal argument that the U.S. remains a participant in the Iran nuclear accord that President Donald Trump has renounced, part of an intricate strategy to pressure the UN Security Council to extend arms embargo on Tehran or see far more stringent sanctions reimposed on the country.

Trump unilaterally quit the nuclear deal in May 2018 and introduced the harshest ever sanctions in history on Iran as part of his administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran. By its exit from the nuclear accord, the U.S. flagrantly violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that approved the pact.

China and Russia, both signatories to the nuclear deal believed to be eager to sell arms to Iran, are likely to exercise their veto at the Security Council to oppose extending the UN arms embargo.

To circumvent China and Russia's veto power, Pompeo said the United States was prepared to argue that it is still a participant in the nuclear accord because it was listed as one under the UN resolution.

That claim comes even as Trump clearly stated in May 2018 he was “terminating the United States’ participation” in the JCPOA.

Professor Frank N. von Hippel, former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, tells the Tehran Times that “it looks strange to me that the U.S. can cite the fact that it was a party to the JCPOA as a basis for this initiative.”

According to the Hill, hundreds of House lawmakers in both parties are calling on Pompeo to take “increased diplomatic action” to renew a United Nations arms embargo on Iran.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell has said that the United States can no longer be considered as a participating member of the nuclear deal.

“It’s clear that in the statement by President Trump and the U.S. presidential memorandum of last May (May 218), they announced that he was ending his participation in JCPOA,” he said in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL on Thursday.

“And I also want to recall that the U.S. has not participated in any meetings of activities within the framework of this agreement since then. So it’s quite clear for us that the U.S. are no longer a participating member in this agreement,” Borrell added.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), warned on Sunday that continuation of the illegal arms embargo on Iran will kill the nuclear agreement.

“#JCPOA will die forever by circumventing 2231 Resolution & continuing #Iran's illegal weapons sanctions,” Shamkhani wrote in a Twitter post.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations, has said that the United States’ attempt to extend arms embargo on Iran will reach nowhere.

In an interview with IRNA published on Sunday, he said if the U.S. does not gain the UN Security Council’s approval, it will try another way which will reach nowhere.

In a tweet on Friday, Ulyanov criticized the U.S. for not saying a “single word” about its obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that confirms the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“US officials claim that US retains the rights under UNSC resolution 2231. No single word about US obligations which come together with rights. In particular, what about refraining from “actions that undermine implementation of commitments under #JCPOA” (paragraph 2 of res.2231)?” he tweeted.

In a tweet on Thursday, Ulyanov said, “The US attempts to present itself as ‘JCPOA participants’ have no future. It is like a common sense mockery. Those who invented this idea gave bad advice to US authorities. Cynical approaches must have their own limits in order not to compromise national policy to the worst extent.”

Dennis Jett, a former U.S. diplomat, has said that the U.S. attempt to present itself as a participant to the JCPOA proves paradox in Washington’s foreign policy.

“Trump [U.S. President Donald Trump] boasts about quitting an agreement signed by Obama [former U.S. president], but his secretary of state [Mike Pompeo] says the United States is a party to the nuclear deal. It shows lack of coordination in Trump’s foreign policy which is based on words that have no stable sense,” he told IRNA in an interview published on Sunday.

He noted that no member of the UN Security Council will accept the U.S. claim of being a participant in the JCPOA.

Ali Vaez, the Iran Project director at the International Crisis Group, told RFE/RL that an extension was also unlikely to stop China or Russia from selling arms to Iran.

"The removal of the arms embargo is one of the few remaining benefits of the JCPOA for Iran. Depriving Tehran from having access to the arms market will compel Iran… to double down on its ballistic missiles program," he said. 

NA/PA

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