US envoy: Arms embargo on Iran must remain in place

US special representative to Iran, Brian Hook, says world must ignore Iranian threats to retaliate for extension of arms embargo.

Ben Ariel ,

Brian Hook
Brian Hook
Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

An expiring United Nations weapons embargo on Iran must remain in place to prevent it from “becoming the arms dealer of choice for rogue regimes and terrorist organizations around the world,” the US special representative to Iran said Sunday.

Speaking to The Associated Press, special envoy Brian Hook said that the world should ignore Iran’s threats to retaliate if the arms embargo set to expire in October is extended, calling it a “mafia tactic.”

The UN arms embargo so far has stopped Iran from purchasing fighter jets, tanks, warships and other weaponry, but has failed to halt its smuggling of weapons into war zones. Despite that, Hook argued both an import and export ban on Tehran must remain in place to secure the wider Middle East.

“If we let it expire, you can be certain that what Iran has been doing in the dark, it will do in broad daylight and then some,” Hook said.

A ban on selling conventional weapons to Iran ends in October under a 2015 Security Council resolution that blessed the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and from which US President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently vowed to use all means available to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran. The United States has put forward a resolution to extend the embargo but faces opposition from veto-wielding Russia and China, which stand to win contracts with Tehran.

Last week, Pompeo threatened to seek to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran if the Security Council does not approve a resolution that would indefinitely extend the arms embargo.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hook’s remarks. However, President Hassan Rouhani described 2020 as Iran’s “most difficult year” on Sunday due to the US economic pressure campaign and the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran’s UN ambassador warned last week that he believes the US resolution to extend the arms embargo will be defeated and warned it would be “a very, very big mistake” if the Trump administration then tries to re-impose UN sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany made clear recently they would not back US efforts to unilaterally trigger the reimposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has argued that since the United States has already withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, it can’t now use its former membership of the pact to try to impose a permanent arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

Since Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran has broken all the accord’s production limits. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iranian nuclear activity as part of the deal, says Tehran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium continues to grow.

Iran has threatened to expel IAEA inspectors and withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty amid the US pressure campaign.

“If we play by Iran’s rules, Iran wins,” Hook said on Sunday. “It is a mafia tactic where people are intimidated into accepting a certain kind of behavior for fear of something far worse.”

Hook maintained that the UN ban on Iran exporting weapons abroad also needed to remain in place, even though it has not prevented Tehran from smuggling arms. Iranian arms in particular have turned up in Yemen, where Tehran-backed Houthi rebels fight a Saudi-led coalition.

“I don’t think anyone believes that Iran’s behavior merits loosening restrictions on their ability to move weapons,” Hook said.




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