Israeli leaders on Saturday condemned the United Nations Security Council for rejecting a US-sponsored resolution that would have indefinitely extended an international arms embargo on Iran that is about to expire.
“The decision of the UN Security Council not to renew the arms embargo on Iran is scandalous,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Iranian terrorism and aggression threaten the peace of the region and the entire world. Instead of opposing weapons sales, the Security Council is encouraging them.”
Only two of the council’s 15 members voted Friday in favor of the US resolution seeking to extend the embargo, highlighting the division between Washington and its European allies since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear accord in May 2018.
Washington’s European allies all abstained, and Iran mocked the Trump administration for only winning the support of one other country, the Dominican Republic.
“We will continue to act in close cooperation with the US and countries in the region to block the Iranian aggression,” Netanyahu said. “The State of Israel will continue to act with full force against whoever seeks to undermine its security.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the council’s rejection of the US resolution was a mistake that would be detrimental to regional stability and global security.
“In its unceasing attempts to achieve nuclear weapons, and its efforts to fuel terror and violence, Iran is undermining the peace of the region and the world,” he said in a statement. “Israel will continue to work with its partners across the world and the Middle East to stop Iranian aggression.”
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said he spoke over the weekend with several of his colleagues in different countries asking them to confront Iran’s aggression.
“Iran doesn’t just finance terror, it also carries it out and represents a danger to regional and international stability,” he said.
I condemn the decision by some members of the UNSC to not extend the arms embargo on Iran. Iran doesn’t just finance terror it also carries it out & represents a danger to regional & international stability. The international community must stop Iran spreading terror worldwide.
— גבי אשכנזי – Gabi Ashkenazi (@Gabi_Ashkenazi) August 15, 2020
Israel’s incoming ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, who arrived in New York only a few days ago, issued his first statement on Friday’s Security Council vote, calling it “a disgrace.”
“Instead of allowing the terrorist regime in Tehran to acquire deadly weapons, the council should impose crippling sanctions on Iran,” he said. “The council has utterly failed in its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. This decision will further destabilize the Middle East, and increase the spread of violence around the world.”
Iran, on the other hand, celebrated the vote as a rare diplomatic victory, saying the US has “never been so isolated.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the United States had failed to kill off what he called the “half alive” 2015 deal with major powers that gave Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
“The United States failed in this conspiracy with humiliation,” Rouhani told a televised news conference.
“In my opinion, this day will go down in the history of our Iran and in the history of fighting global arrogance.”
“In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” said foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
“Despite all the trips, pressure and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country (to vote) with them,” he tweeted.
The result increases the likelihood that the US will try to unilaterally force a return of UN sanctions, which experts say threatens to plunge the Council into one of its worst-ever diplomatic crises.
“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The embargo on conventional arms is due to expire on October 18 under the terms of a resolution that blessed the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Since Trump pulled out of the JCPOA and slapped unilateral sanctions on Iran under a campaign of “maximum pressure,” Tehran has taken small but escalating steps away from compliance with the nuclear accord as it presses for sanctions relief.
European allies of the United States — who, along with Russia and China, signed the deal with Iran — have voiced support for extending the 13-year-long conventional arms embargo, saying an expiry threatens stability in the Middle East.
However, their priority is to preserve the JCPOA.
The US text, seen by AFP, effectively called for an indefinite extension of the embargo on Iran, which diplomats said would threaten the nuclear agreement.
Iran says it has the right to self-defense and that a continuation of the ban would mean an end to the nuclear deal.
AFP contributed to this report.