Pompeo Comment on Iran Arms Embargo Evokes Russian Cynicism
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is scheduled to expire in October. “Don’t just take it from the United States,” he said on Tuesday during a video-conference session of the Council. “[L]isten to countries in the region. From Israel to the Gulf, countries in the Middle East – who are most exposed to Iran’s predations – are speaking with one voice: Extend the arms embargo.” Its lifting was one of the terms of a 2015 multilateral accord aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. The United States, one of the signatories, withdrew from the accord in 2018, calling it insufficiently strict. It quickly began reinstating harsh economic sanctions. Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s UN ambassador, reacted to Pompeo’s comments by evoking the racial unrest currently gripping the US, accusing Washington of “putting a knee” to Iran’s neck and maintaining “a maximum suffocation policy.” Russia, like the US, has veto power on the Council, meaning it could block any effort to extend the embargo. If this happens, it is assumed that Washington would seek to use a tripwire built into the accord that would snap back all the global sanctions lifted upon its signing – although with the US having left the deal, this might not be so easy.