U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the United Nations Security Council to extend the international arms embargo on Iran, set to expire in October.
In a tweet on Saturday, April 18, Pompeo asserted that lifting the sanctions imposed on Tehran may give rise to violence in the Middle East.
"The arms embargo on Iran – the world’s leading state sponsor of terror – expires six months from today. The UN Security Council (UNSC) must extend the embargo before Iran’s violence escalates and they start a new arms race in the Middle East. The clock is ticking," Pompeo tweeted.
"In the last year, Iran fired ballistic missiles at its neighbors, mined and captured oil tankers, smuggled weapons into conflict zones, and shot down a civilian passenger jet. We can’t risk Iran buying more advanced weapons and transferring their arsenal to irresponsible actors," Pompeo reiterated.
Earlier, on March 5, Pompeo had tabled a similar demand, telling the State Department reporters, "As we approach this big demarcation that occurs in October, the very missiles that put American lives at risk in Iraq, and the very missiles that fell on Saudi Aramco, can be lawfully sold by China or Russia to Iran."
The arms embargo on the clergy-dominated Iran is scheduled to be lifted in October 2020, five years after it was set in conjunction with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed that year to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly declared that Tehran was looking forward to the lifting of the arms embargo.
In November 2019, he said Iran would regain access to the international arms market after the lifting of the sanctions.
"When the embargo…is lifted next year, we can easily buy and sell weapons…This is one of those important impacts of this (nuclear) agreement,” said Rouhani.
Washington dropped the nuclear deal in 2018, and unilaterally imposed a series of devastating sanctions on Tehran.
In the meantime, as a permanent member of the UNSC authorized to veto the council's resolutions, Russia has already announced that it would not support extending the arms embargo.
The 2015 nuclear deal includes "sunset provisions" lifting restrictions on Iran’s military, missiles, and nuclear programs. The first to expire is the U.N. arms embargo.
Referring to "sunset provisions", Pompeo has cautioned, "This is consistent with the JCPOA. This is the fundamental failing. Iran will be free to buy conventional weapons systems from any willing seller".
The "sunset provisions" were a key factor in President Donald Trump’s decision to drop the JCPOA in May 2018 and impose batches of sanctions on Iran.