By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – The US on Wednesday submitted a UN Security Council resolution to extend an international embargo on arms sales to Iran under the 2015 nuclear pact brokered with world powers.
While President Donald Trump chose to unilaterally leave the agreement in 2018 over the objections of all other participants, Washington is nonetheless hoping to maintain the provision beyond its current expiration date in October.
The Trump administration faces long odds in successfully doing so in the Security Council, however. It remains unclear if the US will be able to muster the necessary nine votes in the 15-member body as it faces widespread opposition, including among key allies.
Should it be able to meet the vote threshold, it nonetheless faces opposition from China and Russia, who have vowed to veto the measure.
Kelly Craft, the US' UN envoy, said the resolution is a "straightforward, common-sense measure requested by countries in the Middle East," pointing to Tehran's support for proxy groups in the region that she contended "continues to endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of innocent men."
"It is unimaginable that the UN Security Council would overlook this behavior – verified by the Secretary General in his recent report on UNSCR 2231 – and unlock Iran’s access to combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, tanks, missile systems, and other advanced weapons," she said in a statement, calling for support from council members for the seemingly ill-fated resolution.
During a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged all countries, especially the signatories to the 2015 nuclear pact — China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany — to strongly reject the resolution.
“The preservation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 is a fundamental commitment of all countries that have remained in the JCPOA”, he said, according to Iran's presidency.
Macron emphasized Paris' lack of support for the US resolution, it added.
Signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries — the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.
In May 2018, the US withdrew from the agreement, igniting gradual cutting of the obligations by Iran, who accused European signatories of delaying implementation of their responsibilities under the deal.
The conventional weapons embargo is set to expire Oct. 18 under the agreement.
One option the US could pursue in the event that either the measure fails to receive necessary support in the 15-member council, or if Russia or China exercise vetoes, is what is called "snapback."
That would entail triggering all sanctions lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear accord, an option Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week the US is considering.
"We're deeply aware that snapback is an option that's available to the United States, and we're going to do everything within America's power to ensure that that arms embargo is extended," he said. "I am confident that we will be successful."