No takers for extending Iran’s arms embargo

President Donald Trump
  • The US and its allies in the Middle East are not getting the support they hoped for the extension of the Iranian arms embargo which expires in October.

It became abundantly clear in the United National Security Council meeting on Tuesday that there is little appetite to meet the US’ demand to extend Iran’s conventional weapons embargo indefinitely. The embargo, which bans Iran from importing and exporting most kinds of weapons including tanks and aircraft, is set to expire on October 18. The embargo stems from the 2015 deal which sought to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the same deal which the Trump administration withdrew from in 2018.

Speaking to the UNSC, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that lifting the embargo would have major implications for the region’s security and stability. While the US and its allies in the region contend that Iran has already been violating the embargo and is a destabilising force in the region that must be stopped, this stand is being outright rejected by China and Russia, while even European members are ambivalent.

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The US propped up its argument by presenting findings from the UN General Secretary’s office that Iranian drones and missiles were used in an attack against Saudi Arabia in 2019. China and Russia rejected these findings and also criticised the IAEA over its confrontations with Iran when they believe the problem stems from the US’ pulling out of the nuclear deal. The US countered this stand by saying very soon the Russian aircraft that Iran will be able to obtain would put many of the Western powers within its target.

The European countries on the table – UK, Germany and France – are not arguing in the favour of any particular side – they say the US shouldn’t have withdrawn from the deal but also admonish Iran for the UN’s findings and for non-compliance with IAEA. They are hoping that Iran’s access to arms can be limited through a compromise negotiated in the framework of the 2015 agreement and not through any action taken by the UNSC. In any case, some limits on nuclear and missile technology will remain in place for a few more years.

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