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A Large Majority Of US House Members Call For Extension Of Iran Arms Embargo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives to testify during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 28, 2020

A large majority of U.S. legislators on both sides of the aisle called on President Donald Trump's administration on Monday, May 4, to push for an extension of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran.

In a new letter to the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 387 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives urged the State Department on Monday to apply "robust diplomacy" to renew the embargo as well as travel restrictions on people aiding in Iran’s proliferation activities.

The embargo expires on October 18.

"We are concerned that the ban’s expiration will lead to more states buying and selling weapons to and from Iran," the members wrote. "Additionally, states concerned about Iran’s malign activities may feel they do not have sufficient legal authority to stop transfers once the U.N. embargo expires."

They advised the department to work with "allies and like-minded partners" to rally support to extend the embargo and "make clear to the international community that U.S. sanctions on Iranian arms transfers remain in place and will be fully enforced."

The bipartisan group is led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, New York Democrat, and ranking member Michael McCaul Rep-texas, as well as Stephanie Murphy Dem Florida, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican, and encompasses more than three-quarters of all House members.

The current arms embargo on Iran was adopted in 2015 in conjunction with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.S., and the U.K.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to halt its sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.

After extending the JCPOA for four consecutive times, Washington ultimately dropped the deal on May 8, 2018, and imposed batches of economic sanctions on the Shi'ite clergy-dominated Iran.

Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo has already said the United States may unilaterally trigger the "snapback" option in the JCPOA, which would restore a broad array of international sanctions because Iran is not complying with the deal. The snapback provisions apply to all parties to the deal once they are triggered by a single party.

Meanwhile, Pompeo has noted that he is also open to working with allies to extend the embargo through other means.

However, referring to Washington's withdrawal from the JCPOA, critics argue that the Trump administration is not a party to the deal; therefore, it is not in a position to exploit the trigger mechanism of the agreement to sanction Iran.

"The United States is not a member of the nuclear deal anymore ... Iran's reaction to America's illegal measures will be firm," the spokesman of the Islamic Republic Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi said.

Furthermore, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, warned in a tweet last Sunday that the nuclear deal "will die forever" by "circumventing (UN Security Council) 2231 Resolution & continuing Iran's illegal weapons sanction".