Iran: US effort to extend arms embargo will fail; new sanctions a ‘big mistake’ 

Source: Iran: US effort to extend arms embargo will fail; new sanctions a ‘big mistake’ | The Times of Israel

Envoy to UN says snapping back restrictions will end nuclear deal: ‘If that happens, Iran will not be under constraint as to its course of action. All options will be open’

Iranian envoy to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi briefs journalists outside the Security Council on June 24, 2019. (Loey Felipe/UN)

Iranian envoy to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi briefs journalists outside the Security Council on June 24, 2019. (Loey Felipe/UN)

UNITED NATIONS — Iran’s UN ambassador said Thursday that he believes a US resolution to extend an arms embargo against his country will be defeated and warned it would be “a very, very big mistake” if the Trump administration then tries to re-impose UN sanctions.

Ambassador Majid Ravanchi said restoring UN sanctions will end the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and release Tehran from all its commitments.

“If that happens, Iran will not be under constraint as to what course of action it should take,” he said reporters. “All options for Iran will be open.”

Lifting the arms embargo on Tehran is part of the UN 2015 Security Council resolution endorsing the nuclear agreement.

Ravanchi spoke a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to seek to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran if the Security Council does not approve a resolution that would indefinitely extend the arms embargo, which is set to expire in October.

“Iran will be able to purchase advanced weapons systems and become an arms dealer of choice for terrorists and rogue regimes all throughout the world,” Pompeo said. “This is unacceptable.”

Later Wednesday, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and US Ambassador Kelly Craft briefed Security Council members on the US draft resolution that would maintain the arms embargo indefinitely.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media before departing from al-Bateen Air Base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, September 19, 2019, as US special representative on Iran Brian Hook, left, listens. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers and re-imposed crippling US sanctions.

The five other powers that signed the nuclear deal — Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany — remain committed to it, saying the agreement is key to continuing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and preventing Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

Ravanchi said ending the arms embargo in October “is an essential part of the agreement between Iran and its partners.”

“We believe there is no stomach for members of the Security Council to digest the draft resolution like the one the US presented,” he said. “So, it is our view that the draft resolution will be defeated.”

Ravanchi stressed that Iran will not accept “anything less than full implementation” of the provision lifting the arms embargo.

And he added: “It would be a wise idea for the United States to reconsider the presentation of the draft because it’s not going to be approved.”

The Iranian ambassador pointed to letters from the foreign ministers of Russia and China, both veto-wielding members of the Security Council, to its members opposing any extension of the arms embargo.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) speaks to the UN Security Council at the United Nations headquarters on February 11, 2020 in New York. (Johannes EISELE / AFP)

The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, also includes a “snap back” provision that would restore all UN sanctions against Iran that had been lifted or eased if the nuclear deal is violated.

Responding to Pompeo’s threat to use that provision if the US arms embargo resolution isn’t approved, Ravanchi said: “This is a very, very big mistake on the part of the United States to try to snap back the resolution, because they know that is the end of JCPOA, and they should think twice before resorting to that option.”

He said Iran and many other Security Council members believe the US has no legal authority to invoke snap back because it is no longer part of the JCPOA.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has dismissed as “ridiculous” the possibility of the Trump administration trying to use the snap back provision, stressing that since the US pulled out out of the JCPOA “they have no right” to use any of its provisions.

But Pompeo and Craft insist the resolution makes clear the US retains the right to use the provision.

Ravanchi said the US should ask itself how it will implement snap back in the face of strong opposition to it.

And he said the US should also bear in mind the consequences of having no JCPOA, and the consequences of snap back action, including its impact on other Security Council members and the council’s credibility.

The ambassador was asked whether ending IAEA inspections, stopping unannounced inspections under the nuclear agency’s additional protocol, or withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, are likely steps Iran would take if the US succeeds in re-imposing UN sanctions.

“I am not going to tell you exactly what action we are going to take,” Ravanchi replied. ”There are a number of options available.”


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