Calling Iran “the world’s most heinous terrorist regime,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to extend the U.N. arms embargo against Tehran, which expires in October, and reject “extortion diplomacy.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif countered calling President Donald Trump’s administration “an outlaw bully” that is waging “economic terrorism” on his country to satisfy domestic constituencies and “personal aggrandizement.”
He called for the U.S. to compensate the Iranian people for the damage and vehemently opposed any extension of the arms embargo, warning that Iran’s options “will be firm” if it is maintained and the U.S. will bear full responsibility.
The United States has circulated a draft Security Council resolution to extend the arms embargo indefinitely, and Pompeo said the United States’ “overwhelming preference” is to work with its 15 members to adopt it.
But he indicated that if the resolution isn’t approved, which is likely because of Russian and Chinese opposition, the U.S. will move to invoke a provision of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers to re-impose all U.N. sanctions against Iran. The Trump administration pulled out of the deal in 2018.
Pompeo spoke at a virtual open meeting of the council on implementation of resolution 2231, which was adopted in 2015 to endorse the Iran nuclear deal. The arms embargo is included in the measure.
Zarif told the council later that the U.S. violated all provisions of the deal by its withdrawal and insisted that the arms embargo be lifted completely on its Oct. 18 expiration date. “Any attempt to change or amend the timetable” for lifting the embargo is tantamount to undermining the entire resolution, he said.
Pompeo noted that Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani recently declared that “Iran will give a crushing response if the arms embargo on Tehran is extended.”
Zarif didn’t, but the foreign minister told the council: “The international community in general — and the U.N. Security Council in particular — are facing an important decision: Do we maintain respect for the rule of law, or do we return to the law of the jungle by surrendering to the whims of an outlaw bully?”
Pompeo seized on findings in a report this month by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who said the United Nations has determined that Iran was the source for several items in two arms shipments seized by the U.S., and for debris left by attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations and an international airport.
The report also said some of the items seized by the U.S. in November 2019 and February 2020 “were identical or similar” to those found after cruise missiles and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2019.
Pompeo also blamed Iran for other actions, including an attack on U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq in January using its advanced missiles, and supplying Shiite militia forces who have launched dozens of rocket attacks since last year against U.S. and coalition forces fighting Islamic State extremists.