US circles proposal to extend Iran arms embargo among Security Council members
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US circles proposal to extend Iran arms embargo among Security Council members

Russia has said Moscow will oppose any US attempt to extend the embargo, which expires on October 18, and reimpose UN sanctions

Illustrative: The UN Security Council holds a meeting, at United Nations headquarters, November 20, 2019. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
Illustrative: The UN Security Council holds a meeting, at United Nations headquarters, November 20, 2019. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

UNITED NATIONS — US Ambassador Kelly Craft said Friday she has shared a draft UN Security Council resolution with Russia that would extend the arms embargo against Iran indefinitely.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said last month that Moscow will oppose any US attempts to extend the arms embargo, which expires on October 18, and reimpose UN sanctions on Iran.

Craft told a press briefing that she also shared the draft with the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Estonia and hopes to give the draft to the rest of the 15-member Security Council “pretty soon.”

But she said first she wants to talk to ambassadors and “make sure everyone understands that we are committed to making certain that the UN Security Council does not allow this to expire in October.”

“What I say to people is on October 18… do we want Russia selling weapons to Iran? Do we want China selling? Do we want anyone providing or selling weapons to Iran?” Craft asked. “I’m stressing that Russia and China need to join a global consensus on Iran’s conduct. This is about not only the people of Iran but the people in the Middle East.”

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft at a luncheon with US President Donald Trump and members of the UN Security Council at the White House, December 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers in 2018 and reimposed crippling US sanctions.

A year ago, the US sent thousands more troops, long-range bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Middle East in response to what it called a growing threat of Iranian attacks on US interests in the region.

The five other powers that signed the nuclear deal — Russia, China, UK, France and Germany — remain committed to it, saying the agreement is key to continuing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and preventing Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

Lifting the arms embargo is part of the 2015 Security Council resolution endorsing the nuclear agreement.

In addition to opposing a new arms embargo, Russia’s Nebenzia has also dismissed as “ridiculous” the possibility of the Trump administration seeking to use the “snap back” provision in the 2015 resolution, which would restore all UN sanctions against Iran that had been lifted or eased if the nuclear deal is violated.

Nebenzia said the US pulled out of the agreement and “they have no right” to use any of its provisions.

Russia’s United Nations Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia speaks to the media after attending a UN Security Council meeting where the United Kingdom officially announced the latest findings behind the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter last March on September 6, 2018 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

But Craft said the resolution “makes clear that the US retains the right” to use the “snap back” provision.

Some Western governments privately fear that maintaining an arms embargo will lead Iran to oust IAEA inspectors and move ahead on developing nuclear weapons.

The latest IAEA report release Friday said Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program, which Tehran said it hasn’t received, especially since the US withdrawal in 2018. Iran has since slowly and openly violated the nuclear restrictions to try and pressure the remaining nations in the agreement to increase incentives to offset the economy-crippling US sanctions.

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