Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday called for an arms embargo to be extended indefinitely to Iran, but his appeal failed at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China completely rejected it and the United States’ close allies were ambivalent.
The embargo, which expires on October 18, stems from the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program. President Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018, and Iran has exceeded the limits of the uranium enrichment deal since then, part of a constant escalation of tensions that have sometimes brought the two countries dangerously close to war.
The US offer will surely fail in the Security Council; It may not even get enough support to be voted on, diplomats said. If the embargo is not extended, the Trump administration has threatened that the United States will try to invoke a “rollback” provision of the 2015 deal to reimpose old UN sanctions against Iran, a move other nations said would be reckless and legally invalid.
Representatives of Great Britain, France and Germany expressed concern both about the expiration of the embargo and about the US approach, particularly the setback, which they strongly opposed.
European powers said they hoped to find some way to limit Iranian access to weapons through a compromise negotiated under the 2015 deal, not an action imposed by the Security Council.
The arms embargo applies to Iran that imports or exports most types of weapons, including aircraft and tanks. Some limits to nuclear and missile technology will remain in effect for a few more years.
Resistance to Pompeo’s call, which comes not only from rivals like China and Russia, but also from key allies, illustrates the growing isolation and diminishing influence of the United States, analysts said, even in dealing with an Iran that members they consider a dishonest nation that destabilizes the region.
UN officials released findings that the missiles used in an attack last September against crucial Saudi oil facilities were manufactured in Iran, as were the weapons intended for Iran’s Houthi allies in Yemen that were seized by the US Navy. The findings supported the conclusions of Western intelligence agencies.
“Iran is already violating the arms embargo, even before its expiration date,” Pompeo said at the Security Council meeting, which was held via video link. “Imagine if Iranian activity were sanctioned, authorized by this group, if the restrictions are lifted.”
“Iran will be free to become a dishonest arms dealer, supplying weapons to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the confines of Afghanistan,” he added.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, rejected accusations of Iranian aggression based on what he called “selfish accusations and falsified documents,” adding that it was the United States that “directly undermined global peace and security. “
Zarif began and ended his remarks by citing Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian prime minister who was toppled in a CIA-orchestrated coup in 1953, a nod to a long history of American intervention.
Tuesday’s meeting marked the first time since 2017 that Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Zarif participated in the same forum, even if only virtually, but did not appear together at the diplomats’ view shown on the website of the Un Mr. Pompeo left the meeting before Mr. Zarif joined.
Since abandoning the nuclear deal, Trump has tried to prevent Iran from doing business with the rest of the world, threatening economic sanctions for countries and companies that disagree. Although most of the world is opposed to the American position, much of it has complied.
Noting that the 2015 agreement had been adopted by the UN Security Council, Mr. Zarif said that “for the first time in the history of the Security Council, a permanent member is punishing member states for not violating a Security Council resolution “.
Security Council members and UN officials criticized both Iran and the United States, urging them to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, often referred to as the JCPOA.
Some attributed the current crisis to Trump, saying he had begun a long series of provocations and retaliation by withdrawing from the deal and imposing punitive economic sanctions.
“China opposes the US push to extend the arms embargo on Iran,” said Zhang Jun, the Chinese ambassador, who, like Russia, France, Britain and the United States, has veto power on the council. China, Russia, Germany, Great Britain, France and the European Union are signatories to the 2015 agreement.
“Having withdrawn from the JCPOA, the United States is no longer a participant and has no right to cause a setback at the UN,” said Zhang.
German representative Christoph Heusgen said he deplored Iran’s attacks on the region and its human rights record at home, but also supported the view that Washington had no right to invoke UN sanctions.
“It is very unfortunate that the United States left the JCPOA, and in doing so it really violated international law,” he said.
Henry Rome, Iran’s senior analyst for the Eurasia Group, said the meeting was “another vivid illustration of Washington’s isolation on the Iran issue, as well as its failure in the past three years to persuade any other signatory to the deal to back its focus”.
At the meeting, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, detailed evidence that weapons and parts of weapons involved in the seizure of the US Navy and the attacks on the oil field were made by Iran. . She added that Iran has begun to violate the nuclear deal by exceeding the limits of its uranium enrichment, a potential step in being able to produce a nuclear weapon.
But Ms. DiCarlo, a US citizen, cited “divergent views” on whether Iranian rockets, launched in February and April, could carry a nuclear warhead, as the United States has claimed.