U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reiterated the need to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran that will end in October, warning China and Russia they will be isolated if they oppose a decision at the UN Security Council.
Pompeo called on the world to understand the need to extend the arms embargo against Iran, while also making it clear that Washington is willing to talk to Tehran at the right time.
The arms embargo was established in conjunction with the 2015 nuclear agreement for five years and runs out this October.
Meanwhile, China's Foreign Minister has ruled out the extension of the embargo during a video teleconference with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zari and said: "China is against any initiative to change the Iran nuclear deal and the UN resolution 2231.”
A draft resolution prepared by Washington, calls for changing the provisions of resolution 2231 about ending the arms embargo at a time the United Nations has accused Iran of arms activities that could be a clear violation.
Pompeo is well aware of China's opposition and said before the Chinese minister's comment: "I think all but a couple of nations understand that this should not expire and there is going to be a discussion about how it is that we extend it."
He probably was referring to using the snapback clause that would return all previous international sanctions against Iran that were annulled when the nuclear agreement was reached. This would leave China and probably Russia to choose between the arms embargo and the return of a series of hard economic and other sanctions against Iran.
Meanwhile, according to a Reuters report, the United States has warned Russia and China of isolation at the United Nations organization if they block the extension of Iran's arms ban.
The United States' special representative for Iran Brian Hook told the agency that trying to prevent the extension of the arms embargo against Iran would be following "the road to dystopia."
According to reports, Hook and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft will make the case for extending the embargo before the 15-member UN Security Council on Wednesday behind closed doors.
He told Reuters: "The embargo has not prevented all Iranian weapons transfers, but the export and import bans have been effective at establishing clear limits on Iran's behavior."
Meanwhile, Hook talked about "a widening gap" emerging between Russia and China ahead of the meeting. He said Russia and China will be isolated at the UN Security Council meeting in the same way they were isolated at the IAEA board of governors meeting last week that ratified a resolution against Tehran and called on it to cooperate with IAEA inspectors.
A Security Council resolution will need nine votes in favor and no vetoes by veto right owners, the United States, China, Russia, Britain or France to pass.
Meanwhile, responding to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's call for an apology as well as compensating Iran for the sanctions on Wednesday, Pompeo said, "We are happy to engage in conversations with them when the time is right but the conditions that suggest somehow we give a bunch of money to the Iranians so they can foment terror around the world is simply ludicrous."
In another development on Wednesday, Washington imposed sanctions on five Iranian ship captains who had delivered oil to Venezuela, while Pompeo reiterated Washington's support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Pompeo said the ships delivered around 1.5 million barrels of Iranian gasoline and related components and warned any mariners against doing business with the government of Venezuela. Washington has demanded President Maduro's ouster.
Pompeo said the captains' assets will be blocked and their careers and prospects will suffer from this designation."
Oil exports by both Iran and Venezuela have dramatically dwindled as a result of U.S. sanction.