United States threatens sanctions after expiration of UN arms embargo on Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference announcing the reinstatement of sanctions by the Trump administration against Iran, at the US State Department in Washington, September 21, 2020.

Patrick Semansky | Swimming pool | Reuters

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday warned that the United States would impose sanctions on any person or entity that supports Iran’s arms program, a move that will likely further escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran.

“Over the past 10 years, countries have refrained from selling arms to Iran under various UN measures. Any country that now challenges this ban will very clearly choose to fuel conflicts and tensions for promote peace and security, ”Pompeo said in a statement Sunday. .

“Any nation that sells arms to Iran impoverishes the Iranian people by allowing the regime to divert funds from the people and toward the regime’s military objectives,” he added.

The threat comes after a ten-year UN arms embargo on Iran officially expired on Sunday as part of a nuclear deal struck with world powers in 2015.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that “the Islamic Republic of Iran can procure the necessary weapons and equipment from any source without any legal restriction and only on the basis of its defensive needs.” However, Tehran has said it has no plans to embark on a frenzy to buy conventional weapons.

Under the United Nations arms embargo, the export of “certain conventional arms to Iran” and the purchase of arms or related material from Iran are in violation of the Security Council resolution of UN and are subject to sanctions.

However, the UN Security Council refused in August to support a US effort to expand the arms embargo against Iran. China and Russia voted against Washington’s efforts, while even close American allies such as Britain, France and Germany abstained. Only the United States and the Dominican Republic voted for an extension.

In response, the United States unilaterally reimposed UN sanctions on Tehran last month through a recovery process, which other UN Security Council members had previously said Washington did not had no power to execute because he pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018.

The same week the United States reimposed UN sanctions, the Trump administration upped the stakes again. Pompeo, accompanied by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said the administration will sanction the entire Iranian Defense Ministry.

“No matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo against Iran, you risk sanctions,” Pompeo said in a September 21 speech. “Our actions today are a warning that should be heard around the world,” he added.

Esper followed Pompeo’s remarks and said the Pentagon was “ready to respond to future Iranian aggression” and called on Tehran to “act like a normal country”.

“We continue to stand side by side with our allies and partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior. In doing so, we will protect our people and our interests and maintain the security of like-minded nations throughout the region,” Esper added.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated after President Donald Trump withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018, calling it “the worst deal ever.”

The 2015 deal lifted sanctions on Iran that crippled its economy and cut its oil exports by about half. In exchange for sanctions relief, Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear program until the terms expired in 2025.

Trump has previously said the United States wants to strike a broader deal with Iran that places stricter limits on its work on nuclear and ballistic missiles and removes the regime’s role in regional proxy wars. Tehran has refused to negotiate as long as US sanctions remain in place.

After Washington exited the nuclear deal, other signatories to the pact – France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China – attempted to keep the deal in place.

Earlier this year, a US strike that killed Iran’s top military commander prompted the regime to further reduce compliance with the international nuclear pact. In January, Iran said it would no longer limit its uranium enrichment capacity or nuclear research.

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