Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press conference on Wednesday that if the U.N. Security Council doesn’t agree to extend the arms embargo against Iran, then the U.S. will seek to “snap back” multilateral sanctions on the regime.
Pompeo made the remarks ahead of a briefing by U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft and Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook to the Security Council on why the arms embargo should be extended, citing Iran’s behavior since the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal, including a drone attack on Saudi Arabia in 2019.
“Without action, on the 18th of [October], Iran will be able to purchase advanced weapon systems and become the arms dealer of choice for terrorists and rogue regimes all throughout the world. This is unacceptable,” Pompeo said Wednesday.
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He quoted former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry, who each made comments that if the U.S. was not satisfied with how the deal was working out, that it could unilaterally reimpose the sanctions that were previously on the Iranian regime.
“First, from President Obama,” Pompeo said. “He said, ‘If at any time the United States believes Iran has failed to meet its commitments, no other state can block our ability to snap back those multilateral sanctions.'”
The secretary of state added: “The legal options in the Security Council are clear. Our great preference is to have a Council resolution that would extend the arms embargo, but we are determined to ensure that that arms embargo continues.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has made clear Moscow’s opposition to a new arms embargo on Iran and has dismissed as “ridiculous” the possibility of the Trump administration trying to use the “snap back” provision. Nebenzia said the U.S. pulled out of the agreement and “they have no right” to use any of its provisions.
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But Pompeo and Craft insist the resolution makes clear the U.S. retains to right to use the “snap back” provision.
According to the State Department, Hook told the Security Council that it “should be united over its concern with Iranian arms transfers, and that it has maintained arms restrictions on Iran since 2007. He updated Security Council members on the full range of Iran’s malign activity, including its September 2019 direct attack on Saudi Arabia.”
In recent years, Iran has also created a dangerous environment in the Strait of Hormuz by seizing oil tankers in international waters; sent a drone toward a U.S. warship; used captured U.S. sailors for propaganda; armed the Houthi rebels in Yemen; tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium and more.
The Associated Press and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.