Pompeo warns international arms embargo on Iran soon to expire

Top US diplomat urges countries to act, saying Revolutionary Guard chief Soleimani will soon be allowed to travel; Tehran could purchase advanced Chinese, Russian arms

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press availability with Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the State Department in Washington, August 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press availability with Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at the State Department in Washington, August 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday urged to international community to step up pressure on Iran, warning that time was running out before a UN arms embargo on Tehran expires.

“We urge our allies and partners to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime until it stops its destabilizing behavior,” Pompeo wrote in a Twitter post featuring a clock counting down to zero.

His tweet linked a State Department memo listing international sanctions that would expire in coming months.

” For example, the head of the brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qasem Soleimani, will be allowed to travel on October 18, 2020. Soon after, the Iranian regime will also be free to sell weapons to anyone, including terrorist proxies, and countries like Russia and China will be able to sell the Iranian regime tanks, missiles, and air defense equipment,” the memo said.

“This could start a new arms race in the Middle East and further destabilize the region and the world,” it warned. “The international community must stand together against the Iranian regime’s support for terror. Time is ticking.”

Last week Iran’s president reiterated that if Washington wants to open negotiations with Tehran, it must lift all sanctions against his country “before everything else.”

Iranian state TV said President Hassan Rouhani made the comments during a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Rouhani also reiterated that America’s sanctions on his country are an act of “economic terrorism,” the report said.

Tensions have escalated since President Donald Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and imposed new and harsher sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a press conference in the Iranian capital Tehran on August 5, 2019. (AFP)

The US administration recently also announced financial sanctions on Zarif, after Trump last month imposed similar measures on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The sanctions are seen as part of a US pressure campaign on Iran.

Iran’s UN ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres protesting what he called the “illegal” sanctions on Zarif. Ravanchi said they are part of US policy “waging economic terrorism against the Iranian people and bringing pressure to bear on their representatives.”

Iran considers the sanctions “a flagrant infringement of the fundamental principles of diplomatic law” that contravene the privileges and immunities of UN diplomats and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he said.

The ambassador said the sanctions signify “the US regime despises diplomacy, which is one of the greatest achievements of humanity to preserve and uphold peace and security among nations” He said the US action “threatens multilateralism as the foundation of international relations and sets a dangerous precedent, paving the way for those who aspire to rather divide, not unite nations.”

“It is imperative for the international community to condemn the United States’ unlawful behavior in the interest of promoting multilateralism … (and) stand firm in defending the established principles of international law,” Ravanchi said.

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