UNITED NATIONS, Aug 16 : The American effort to extend an international arms embargo on Iran failed to pass the United Nations Security Council, setting the stage for a showdown over the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The vote in the 15-member Council was two in favour, two against and 11 abstentions, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption. Major US allies France, Germany and the United Kingdom were among the 11 abstentions.
Russia and China strongly opposed the resolution, but did not need to use their vetoes. Only the Dominican Republic voted for the US resolution. All eyes are now on the United States’ next move as Trump administration officials have previously threatened to invoke a snapback of all sanctions that were lifted under the Iran nuclear deal if the resolution failed. Shortly before the official UN vote, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement lashing out at the resolution’s failure.
“The United Nations Security Council is charged with the responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. It failed today to uphold its fundamental mission set,” Pompeo said.
It rejected a reasonable resolution to extend the 13-year old arms embargo on Iran and paved the way for Iran to buy and sell conventional weapons without specific UN restrictions in place for the first time in over a decade, he continued. “The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defence of international peace and security is inexcusable.”
Under a UN Security Council’s resolution approved in 2015 in support of the nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers, a ban on imports and exports of conventional weapons to and from Iran is set to lift October 18.
Pompeo and his outgoing top Iran envoy, Brian Hook, had been urging countries for months to support extending the embargo, warning about the dangers of allowing Iran to freely move weapons through the Middle East and buy more advanced weapons from countries such as Russia and China. In explaining their votes, US allies said the resolution would never have passed.
Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal rankled the European allies, which continue to support the agreement and view the US moves on the arms embargo as aimed at killing the deal.
US officials have previously suggested that following the arm embargo resolution’s defeat, they would argue the United States remains a participant in the nuclear deal as defined by the 2015 Security Council resolution despite Trump having withdrawn from the agreement. Doing so could allow the United States to invoke a snapback of all UN sanctions that were in place before the nuclear deal, thereby extending the arms embargo. Supporters of the nuclear deal fear a sanctions snapback would be the agreement’s final death blow.
In his statement Friday, Pompeo did not specify what the Trump administration would do next, but pledged that Iran would never be able to buy or sell weapons.
“The United States will never abandon our friends in the region who expected more from the Security Council,” he said. The US would continue to work to ensure that Iran does not have the freedom to purchase and sell weapons that threaten the heart of Europe, the Middle East and beyond, he added.
Before the results were announced, Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed the idea of summit with the heads of state from the five permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Germany and Iran, to discuss “steps that can prevent confrontation or a spike in tensions” at the Security Council.
“We call on our partners to carefully consider this proposal. Otherwise, we could see the further escalation of tension and an increased risk of conflict. This must be avoided,” Putin said in a statement.