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US urges extension of embargo on conventional arms sales to Iran

Pompeo cites Tehran’s recent launch of a military satellite, calls the Islamic Republic the ‘leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Saturday for the UN to extend its conventional arms embargo on Iran beyond its scheduled end in October, citing Tehran’s recent launch of a military satellite.

The lifting of the embargo was stipulated in the multi-nation Iranian nuclear deal concluded in 2015, but which the United States, under President Donald Trump, unilaterally renounced in 2018.

“The world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and anti-Semitism should not be allowed to buy and sell conventional weapons,” Pompeo said in a statement Saturday.

He said Iran’s announcement Wednesday that it had orbited its first military satellite demonstrated that its space program — which Tehran has long insisted is peaceful and civilian — was in fact “neither peaceful nor entirely civilian.”

Pompeo said the technology used to launch the satellite — dubbed Nour, or “light” in Persian — was compatible with that used to launch ballistic missiles.

“All peace-loving nations must reject Iran’s development of ballistic-missile-capable technologies and join together to constrain Iran’s dangerous missile programs,” the secretary of state said.

An Iranian rocket carrying a satellite is launched from an undisclosed site believed to be in Iran’s Semnan province, April 22, 2020. (Sepahnews via AP)

He called on the European Union to “sanction those individuals and entities working on Iran’s missile programs.”

Pompeo’s statement came at a time of sharp US-Iranian tensions, having escalated last week after Washington accused its foe of harassing US ships in the Gulf.

Trump said Wednesday on Twitter that he had “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which had announced the satellite launch, responded by warning the US of a “decisive response” to any such action.

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