Zarif dismisses 'foolish' US threats on Iran arms embargo

Iran's Foreign Minister dismisses US threats to bring back all UN sanctions if Security Council does not extend arms embargo on Tehran.

Elad Benari ,

Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Thursday dismissed as "foolish claims" US threats to trigger a return of all United Nations sanctions if the UN Security Council does not extend an arms embargo on Tehran, Reuters reports.

The comments came after US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, on Wednesday publicly confirmed the strategy.

Hook wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “one way or another” Washington would ensure the arms embargo remains.

He said the United States has drafted a Security Council resolution and “will press ahead with diplomacy and build support.”

A resolution needs nine yes votes and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to be adopted by the 15-member Security Council. Russia has already signaled it is opposed to extending the arms embargo.

“If American diplomacy is frustrated by a veto, however, the US retains the right to renew the arms embargo by other means,” Hook wrote, citing the ability of a party to the Iran nuclear deal to trigger a so-called snapback of all UN sanctions on Iran, which includes the arms embargo.

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.

"Foolish claims by US officials is nothing new," Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif told reporters in response to the US threat, according to Reuters.

"It is no surprise to hear such things from people who recommend drinking disinfectants to ward off the coronavirus - to contend they are still a party to the agreement after officially leaving it,” added Zarif.

This appeared to refer to President Donald Trump's suggestion for research into whether the coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.

Pompeo said recently that the United States will seek action from Britain, France and Germany -- which remain part of the nuclear accord -- as part of its efforts to renew the arms embargo.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to Trump’s withdrawal from the accord.

Britain, France and Germany have attempted to save the agreement, but recently triggered the dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal that could eventually lead to reimposing UN sanctions on Iran.