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United Nations soundly defeats U.S. demand to extend arms embargo on Iran

"We will continue to work to ensure that the theocratic terror regime does not have the freedom to purchase and sell weapons," Pompeo said.
Iranian demonstrators burn a makeshift U.S. flag during a rally in the capital Tehran on May 10, 2019.AFP - Getty Images file

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly defeated a U.S. resolution to indefinitely extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, on Friday, with the Trump administration vowing further action to prevent Tehran's sale and export of conventional weapons.

The vote in the 15-member council was two in favor, two against and 11 abstentions, leaving it far short of the minimum nine "yes" votes required for adoption.

Russia and China strongly opposed the resolution but did not need to use their vetoes.

The Trump administration has said repeatedly it will not allow the arms embargo provision — in the Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers — to expire as scheduled on Oct. 18.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the defeat of the resolution ahead of a very brief virtual council meeting to reveal the vote.

He said Israel and the six Arab Gulf nations who supported the extension "know Iran will spread even greater chaos and destruction if the embargo expires, but the Security Council chose to ignore them."

"We will continue to work to ensure that the theocratic terror regime does not have the freedom to purchase and sell weapons that threaten the heart of Europe, the Middle East and beyond," Pompeo said in a statement.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft said, "the United States stands sickened — but not surprised — as the clear majority of council members gave the green light to Iran to buy and sell all manner of conventional weapons."

Pompeo also suggested the U.S. could invoke the so-called "snap back" mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal that would restore all U.N. sanctions on Iran.

"Snap back" was envisioned in the event Iran was proven to be in violation of the accord, under which it received billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

In 2018, President Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, known as the JCPOA.

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The five other powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — remain committed to the deal, and diplomats from many of these countries have voiced concerns that extending the arms embargo would lead Iran to exit the nuclear agreement and speed up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the U.S. of seeking to use the arms embargo "as a pretext of killing the JCPOA forever through the snap back mechanism."

"As we have already stated, imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited," he said.