arms-embargo 16 July 2020

Saudi Arabia joins US call for no lifting of UN arms embargo on Iran

Saudi Arabia has said it wants ‘appropriate measures’ to ensure the continuation of a UN arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October – weighing in with the United States, after the UN Security Council cold-shouldered a 30 June call by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to have the embargo extended indefinitely.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported that the kingdom’s Council of Ministers called on the international community to ‘deal seriously with the nuclear and ballistic programs being developed by Iran,’ insisting that ‘the international community should take a firm stance against Iran and appropriate measures to continue an arms embargo on the Iranian regime.’

The embargo will expire this year in accordance with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (‘JCPOA’) nuclear deal that Iran signed with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in 2015. President Trump unilaterally pulled out of the agreement in 2018, but now Washington insists it can still use the deal to push for an arms embargo against Iran.

Iran, angry at the United States for pulling out of the deal and at France, Germany and the United Kingdom for what it says are ‘concerns regarding implementation,’ says it is no longer bound by the agreement and has exceeded the accord’s limits on uranium enrichment.

The Trump administration has threatened that if the embargo is not extended, the United States will try to invoke a ‘snapback’ provision of the JCPOA to re-impose the UN sanctions through the Security Council, a move other nations say would be unwise and legally invalid.

The New York Times reported that, ‘Representatives of Britain, France and Germany voiced unease at both the expiration of the embargo and the American approach, particularly the snapback, which they flatly opposed…The European powers said they hoped to find some way to limit Iranian access to arms through a compromise negotiated in the framework of the 2015 agreement, not an action imposed by the Security Council.’

The arms embargo applies to Iran importing or exporting most kinds of weapons, including aircraft and tanks. Some limits on missile and nuclear technology will remain in place for a few more years.