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European Trio Explain Iran Vote Abstention, Russia And China Call US Move 'Futile' And 'Unilateral'


The United States lost a bid on Friday to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran in U.N. Security Council.

Following the United Nations Security Council’s rejection on Friday of the United States-led resolution to extend an arms embargo on Iran, the three European members of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran -- Britain, France and Germany -- explained their reasons for abstaining from the vote, while Iran's allies, China and Russia, called the proposed U.S. resolution "futile" and a "unilateral" move.

A statement issued by Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) following the vote said that the UK abstained on the resolution "because it was clear that it would not attract the support of the Council and would not represent a basis for achieving consensus.”

"It would therefore not contribute to improving security and stability in the region,” the statement read. “Nevertheless, we stand ready to work with Council Members and JCPOA participants to seek a path forward that could secure the support of the Council.

According to the statement, Britain remains “resolutely committed to the JCPOA and to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” and plans on continuing discussion surrounding JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism negotiations alongside France and Germany to bring Iran back into compliance with the agreement.

The FCO also stressed that Britain does not support the U.S. threat to snapback the U.N. sanctions on Iran, calling it "incompatible with the current efforts to preserve the JCPOA.”

The French mission to the U.N. also reaffirmed France's commitment to the preservation of the JCPOA in a statement on Friday, saying that France is "extremely concerned" about Iran's violations of its nuclear commitments and its destabilizing actions in the region.

France abstained on the proposed resolution "because it does not constitute an appropriate response to the challenges posed by the expiry of the embargo and because it is not likely to advance the security and stability of the region, as it cannot gather the support of the Council, nor is it a sufficient basis for working towards a consensus," the statement said.

The German U.N. mission's statement explained Germany’s choice to abstain from the vote, with the resolution not effectively addressing the risks arising from Iran's repeated violations of the Security Council’s conventional arms restrictions, “including through the transfer of weapons to Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, including to non-state actors.”

"Together with France and the United Kingdom, we have been working hard to preserve the JCPOA despite the challenges caused by the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 and Iran’s systematic non-compliance with key JCPOA commitments since July 2019," the German mission to the U.N. wrote, adding that Germany urges Iran "to reverse all measures inconsistent with the agreement and return to full compliance without delay.”

Meanwhile, Russia and China, the two Security Council members that voted against the U.S. draft resolution, accused the U.S. of “bullying” and "overdramatizing" the concerns about the lifting of the embargo.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's Representative to International Organizations in Vienna, tweeted following the vote that the U.S.’ failure to extend the embargo was "quite predictable" and "groundless,” adding, “Those who express concerns in this regard should not overdramatize them...There was no embargo before 2010 and nothing catastrophic happened. Nor will it happen now.”

Russia's U.N. envoy Vasily Nebenzya, in a statement following the vote, urged other Security Council members to "carefully consider" the Russian president Vladimir Putin's proposal to convene an online meeting of the heads of state of the permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Germany and Iran, "to outline steps that can prevent confrontation or a spike in tensions in the U.N. Security Council.”

"The mutually acceptable solution lies in the field of multilateral actions that take into account legitimate security concerns of all regional players," he said.

U.S. -- Russian Ambassador to the United States Vasily Nebenzya speaks to the reporters following Security Council consultations on Syria, at UN h
U.S. -- Russian Ambassador to the United States Vasily Nebenzya speaks to the reporters following Security Council consultations on Syria, at UN h

In another tweet, Ulyanov claimed that the U.S. knew in advance that the resolution would fail, but nevertheless decided to push their draft. "An ideology-motivated approach can put a state in a rather unpleasant situation," he wrote.

China's U.N. mission tweeted that the “result shows again that unilateralism enjoys no support, and bullying will fail.”

“The overwhelming majority of Security Council members hold that the JCPOA and the U.N. Security Council's Resolution 2231 must be defended and implemented," the Chinese mission to the U.N. wrote, adding, “The US, not a participant to the JCPOA any more, has no right to demand the Security Council invoke a snap-back. Should the US insist, it is doomed to fail.”

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.

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