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It Is Time For All Nations To Support Extension Of Iran Arms Embargo

A missile is fired out to sea from a mobile launch vehicle reportedly on the southern coast of Iran along the Gulf of Oman during a military exercise, June 17, 2020
Radio Farda is publishing a series of expert analysis and commentaries on the United States move to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran beyond October 2020.

In May 2018, when the world learned that Iran had concealed a secret nuclear weapons archive before, during and after negotiations over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), supporters of the nuclear deal were quick to excuse Iran’s nuclear prevarication.

Two years later, with Iran in full breach of its JCPOA commitments, mounting evidence of undeclared nuclear material and sites inside the country, and the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October, it’s time for the United States and Europe to join together in restoring all of the sanctions and restrictions it once put in place to prevent the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism from acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.

The Iran Deal was premised on Iran’s full disclosure of past nuclear weapons-related activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a pledge never to pursue such weapons in the future, and a temporary limit on certain nuclear activities. In exchange, Iran received several strategic benefits, including the end of key international restrictions and embargoes over time.

Last week, the IAEA reported that Iran may be concealing undeclared nuclear material inside the country and is denying the agency’s inspectors access to two undeclared sites possibly connected to Iran’s work on nuclear weapons – a potential breach of Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In addition, the IAEA reported that Iran is violating nearly every other nuclear commitment it made in the JCPOA – vastly expanding its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water, restarting enrichment at an illicit underground facility and testing advanced centrifuges.

If the discovery of Iran’s nuclear archive was the smoke, last week’s IAEA reports are the fire. No longer can responsible nations turn a blind eye to Iran’s nuclear misconduct – let alone enable this violent regime to acquire advanced conventional weapons from Russia and China once the UN arms embargo expires.

Fortunately, the UN Security Council Resolution that endorsed the JCPOA includes a snapback mechanism to restore all pre-nuclear deal sanctions and restrictions in response to Iran’s significant non-performance of its nuclear commitments. The Resolution explicitly provides the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China – among the original “JCPOA participant States” – with the right to exercise the snapback until 2025.

Russia and China, looking to sell fighter jets, tanks, naval platforms and other arms to Iran starting in October, will almost certainly oppose a snapback. They will argue that since America withdrew from the JCPOA, it forfeited its right to snapback. Islamic Republic sympathizers in Europe may even concur.

But unfortunately for Russia and China, they voted for a binding Security Council Resolution that explicitly grants the US a right to snapback independent of its participation in the JCPOA political agreement. Moreover, the snapback process cannot be blocked – it is not subject to the veto of any permanent Security Council member.

While America can and will do this alone, it shouldn’t have to. Now is the time for all nations that support the NPT and oppose flooding Iran with Russian and Chinese arms to stand and be counted.

The opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily the views of Radio Farda
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    Richard Goldberg

    Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction for the White House National Security Council (from 2019 to 2020)