House lawmakers urge Pompeo to take action to renew Iran arms embargo

May 4, 2020 - 19:17

TEHRAN — Hundreds of U.S. House representatives in both parties are calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take “increased diplomatic action” to renew a UN arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October.

“We write to urge increased diplomatic action by the United States to renew the expiring United Nations arms embargo against Iran and United Nations travel restrictions on those Iranian individuals involved with dangerous proliferation activities,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Pompeo obtained by The Hill ahead of its release.

“America must continue its longstanding, bipartisan leadership in order to limit Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world,” they claimed. “We look forward to working with you to reauthorize these expiring UN restrictions, which are essential to protecting our national security and the American people.”

Under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the U.S. abandoned in May 2018, the UN ban on weapons sales to Tehran will end in October 2020.

According to The Hill, the letter was organized by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). As of Sunday, the letter has 384 signatures.

“Nearly every member of the U.S. House of Representatives is in agreement: Iran must not be allowed to buy or sell weapons,” McCaul said in a statement. 

“This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, or even just an American issue. We need to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran for the sake of international peace and security. I am proud the House is speaking with one voice to protect the world against Iran’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior.”

Washington has called on the United Nations Security Council to extend its arms embargo on Iran.

Citing the Islamic Republic’s recent satellite launch, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on April 25 that Tehran should not be allowed to buy and sell conventional weapons.

Pompeo claimed the satellite launch showed that Iran’s space program was in fact “neither peaceful nor entirely civilian”.

Tehran subsequently branded Pompeo as “Secretary of Hate”, saying he has achieved nothing since he assumed the post two years ago.

“After 2 years in office, US Secretary of State Pompeo, a.k.a #Secretary_of_Hate, has literally achieved NOTHING in diplomacy,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said via Twitter on April 26.

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), has said continuation of the illegal arms embargo on Iran will kill the nuclear agreement Tehran signed with six world powers in July 2015.

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

Although the administration pulled out from the deal two years ago, the U.S. claims that it retains the right to invoke a sanctions snapback that the deal envisaged in the event of “significant non-performance” by Iran.

That position rests on a novel State Department legal argument that was first presented in December and asserts that although the U.S. is no longer in the nuclear deal, it remains an original “participant” under the terms of the Security Council resolution that enshrined it.

In a briefing Thursday, Brian Hook, the administration’s special envoy for Iran, argued the United States is still a party to the UN resolution because its name is explicitly mentioned in the text.

Kourosh Ahmadi, an international law expert, has said the United States’ legal argument that it remains an original “participant” under the terms of the Security Council resolution “lacks any legal logic”.

In an article published in the Etemad newspaper last week, Ahmadi said hardline senators such as Ted Cruz are pushing the Trump administration to take a tough stance in this regard.