Rouhani: Lifting the arms embargo on Iran is an obvious right

Iranian President warns of unspecified steps Iran could take if the UN arms embargo is extended.

Elad Benari ,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that lifting a UN arms embargo on Tehran would be an “obvious right”, adding a veiled warning of unspecified steps Iran could take if the embargo is extended, The Associated Press reports.

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.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed to use all means available to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, saying he would ask the UN Security Council to prolong the ban.

The US last month circulated a draft UN resolution that would indefinitely extend the embargo. Such a move is almost certain to spark opposition from Russia, which has made no secret of its desire to resume conventional weapons sales to Tehran.

“Iran considers the lifting of the arms embargo an obvious right,” Rouhani said during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, according to AP.

Since Iran is admittedly no longer complying with several elements of the nuclear deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the US administration believes it has a case to make that the embargo should not be lifted.

“Iran will not accept violation of the …. (UN) resolution under any circumstances,” Rouhani said. He said extending the embargo would lead to “serious consequence and a historic failure” for the West.

If the embargo is extended, Rouhani said, Iran’s response would mirror the steps it took after the US pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal — including going beyond the deal’s enrichment and stockpile limitations and injecting uranium gas into over a thousand centrifuges at a fortified nuclear facility built inside a mountain.

He did not elaborate but insisted that Iran’s arms program has always been a “defensive” one.