The Trump administration said late Friday that it will act “in the coming days” to extend a soon-to-expire arms embargo on Iran — after a U.S. resolution to extend it failed in the U.N. Security Council.
“The United States has acted in good faith throughout this process and made clear to all parties that failure was simply not an option,” U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft said in a statement to the Council on Friday.
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The U.S. resolution, which would have extended the 13-years-old embargo “until the Security Council decides otherwise,” picked up only two votes in the chamber. Russia and China voted no, while the rest of the Council members abstained.
The embargo is due to expire on Oct. 18 as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) — known as the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. left the deal in 2018 and has engaged in a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran that has included sanctions on officials and the Iranian economy.
But while the U.S. left the deal, it claims to retain rights under U.N. Resolution 2231, which enshrined the deal and included a “snapback” clause that allows an individual nation to reimpose all sanctions on Iran — including the arms embargo.
In her remarks on Friday, Craft indicated that is what the U.S. intends to do.
“Under Resolution 2231, the United States has every right to initiate snapback of provisions of previous Security Council resolutions,” she said. “In the coming days, the United States will follow through on that promise to stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo.”
Speaking moments after the vote on Friday, President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on “The Story,” that the result was, “disappointing but not surprising.”
O’Brien warned that the U.S. had other tools in its tool kit and would be taking some, “severe measures up at the U.N.,” and said that he expected snapback sanctions would come into play.
He noted that it was not over yet saying, “We lost today, but this is not over yet.”
The “snapback” move is likely to spark fierce resistance from China, Russia and possibly other members of the Council as well — who argue that the U.S. is now out of the deal and therefore shouldn’t be able to use parts of it to its advantage.
“Having withdrawn from the JCPoA, the US is no longer a JCPoA participant and therefore ineligible to demand the Security Council invoke a snapback,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a statement after the vote.
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“The overwhelming majority of the Security Council members believe that the US attempt has no legal basis,” he said. “Should the US insist regardless of international opinion, it is doomed to fail like today.”
The Chinese diplomat went on to accuse the U.S. of having “abandoned its international obligations, and withdrawn from multilateral agreements and international organizations, shattering its own credibility.”
U.S. officials have warned that the expiration of the embargo would allow Iran to buy fighter jets, attack choppers, tanks, submarines and missiles with a range of up to 300 km.
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Other countries, even U.S. allies, are concerned that a reimposition of the arms embargo would result in Iran leaving the nuclear deal altogether.
Acting UK Ambassador Jonathan Allen said in a statement that while the U.K. had set out its concerns of Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region, the UK abstained, “because it was clear that it would not attract the support of the Council and would not represent a basis for achieving consensus” and would therefore not contribute to regional stability.
“Nevertheless, we stand ready to work with Council Members and JCPoA participants to seek a path forward that could secure the support of the Council,” he said.
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Russia, meanwhile, called for a meeting of leaders of the five permanent Security Council members, along with Germany and Iran, in what the Kremlin called an effort to avoid escalation.
”If the leaders are fundamentally ready for a conversation, we propose to promptly coordinate the agenda,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.