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Rouhani Threatens JCPOA Partners With 'Historic Defeat' If Arms Embargo Extended

U.S. President Donald Trump signs a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 8, 2018. File Photo
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 8, 2018. File Photo

President Hassan Rouhani responding to the United States has said extending the UN Security Council's arms embargo against Iran will have "serious consequences."

He was referring to the United States move to make sure that the UN Security Council will extend an arms embargo on Iran which will end by October based on the 2015 nuclear deal also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Speaking in Tehran on Wednesday May 6, on the anniversary of the United States' pull-out from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said that "if the arms embargo is extended in any form and through any mechanism, our response will be what I have stated in the last paragraph of my letter to the heads of JCPOA member states."

He had warned in the letter that "if so and so is done, we will do such and such. They know that if they make a mistake, it will mark a historic defeat for them."

Rouhani's words were cryptic but his body language on the Iranian state TV was elaborately threatening."

Referring to the United States pull-out from the JCPOA in May 2018, Rouhani said that the United State may return to the nuclear deal only if it so requests and accepts the "special conditions" set by Tehran. However, he warned that "Iran would never accept the extension of the arms embargo against Tehran."

He said the U.S. pull-out from the JCPOA was "a very foolish act" and said that Washington probably did it to provoke Iran to resort to reciprocation.

Rouhani said, "For the United States, there is no return to the JCPOA. It is finished for them," adding "unless they come forward, ask for coming back and all the parties involved accept their request and America lifts all the sanctions on Iran under special conditions." However, he did not elaborate on those conditions.

He warned the JCPOA partners that Iran would never accept any violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231." This comes while the U.S. has prepared a draft resolution that extends the arms embargo on Iran beyond October 2020.

Iran's threatening tone while addressing JCPOA's European partners has been continuing in recent months. Earlier this week, Rouhani's spokesman Ali Rabiei threatened that Tehran will show a "hard reaction" to the extension of the arms embargo.

The spokesman threatened the signatories of the 2015 nuclear agreement that extending the arms embargo will entail "serious consequences not only for the nuclear agreement, but also for the security and stability of the region.”

Meanwhile Iranian hardline media including the Kayhan and Vatan Emrouz newspapers have been demanding security restrictions on European diplomats in Tehran and Vatan Emrouz accused the German ambassador and a few other European diplomats in Tehran of spying for Israel. The charge came after Germany banned all the activities of Iran-backed Hezbollah group on its territory.

Other Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made sarcastic statements about the U.S. position. Zarif charged: "The United States has long been the world's top military spender, arms seller, war initiator and instigator and conflict profiteer, yet Secretary Pompeo is apparently so worried about Iran – a huge US arms customer till 1979 – that he is pouring weapons all over the globe."

Iranian security chief Ali Shmakhani also warned JCPOA partners that the nuclear deal will be "dead forever" if the arms embargo is extended.

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 the UN arms embargo on Iran.

In another development, the State Department’s senior diplomat on Iran, Brian Hook, said earlier this week that the U.S. is working on making sure that the new resolution would not be vetoed by China or Russia.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that Washington will use its rights at the UN Security Council to prevent the ending of the arms embargo against Tehran.

Iran has been barred from buying and selling weapons since 2007 due to international concerns about its destabilizing military acts in the Middle East and its links with militant groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and HAMAS in the Palestinian territories.

Based on the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, Iran will be entitled to buy or sell weapons after October 2020. However, reporters in Washington say that the Trump administration has been lobbying at the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution that would bar other countries from selling weapons to Iran after October.

Rouhani claimed on Wednesday that the weapons Iran sells will be "like pouring water on fire," while Western weapons sold in the Middle East pour fuel on fire.