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Pompeo Acknowledges Differences With Europe Over Iran Arms Embargo

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a news conference about dealings with China and Iran, and on the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Washington, June 24, 2020

Acknowledging that "there are some disagreements with the Europeans over Iran's arms embargo," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed on Thursday that talks are underway, and Washington would not allow the embargo to be lifted.

Pompeo reiterated, "The United States will continue to negotiate with European countries in the coming weeks to pass a proposed resolution on the extension of the Islamic Republic's arms embargo."

According to the United Nation's Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted in 2015 in conjunction with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, Iran's arms embargo will expire on October 18. Therefore, in four months from now, Tehran could resume buying or selling weapons and military equipment.

Pompeo, who was speaking at a video-conference at the German Marshall Fund Forum in Belgian capital city, stressed, "Ending Iran's arms embargo was another weakness of the JCPOA. The United States will ensure that this does not happen.” He added this is not only a threat for the United States, but it is also for the Europeans, and the EU will have a hard time to defend the termination of the arms embargo against Iran.

However, Pompeo immediately reminded that many European countries agree with the United States on the issue, and of course, Israel and the Persian Gulf states also want the sanctions to continue.

Although the central part of Mike Pompeo's speech at the online meeting on Thursday was dedicated to China, the moderator of the German Marshall Fund Forum demanded Pompeo's position about those in Europe who believe the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and exerting maximum pressure on Tehran were contrary to the main goal of the nuclear deal, i.e., to keep the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons.

"First of all, the policy of maximum pressure has been quite effective," Pompeo fired back, adding, "Look at Hezbollah, for example, whose funding has dwindled."

He also said that although Washington and the Europeans have disagreements, it is over how to keep the Islamic Republic away from producing atomic bombs.

"In the last year and a half, it has become clear that we are right and they were wrong," Pompeo noted.

Referring to the Islamic Republic's "continuous violations of its nuclear commitments," the Secretary of State reiterated: "Ayatollahs' access to the atomic bomb is dangerous for the whole world.”