WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging the U.N. Security Council to renew the arms embargo on Iran before it expires in October.
"As we approach this big demarcation that occurs in October, the very missiles that put American lives at risk in Iraq, and the very missiles that fell on Saudi Aramco, can be lawfully sold by China or Russia to Iran,” Pompeo told State Department reporters on Thursday. Officials say Iran was behind the September 14, 2019, drone attack on Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-controlled oil facility.
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, includes "sunset provisions" lifting restrictions on Iran’s military, missiles and nuclear programs. The first to expire is the U.N. arms embargo on Iran on October 18, five years after the JCPOA Adoption Day.
"This is consistent with the JCPOA. This is the fundamental failing. Iran will be free to buy conventional weapons systems from any willing seller,” Pompeo noted.
The "sunset provisions" were a key factor in President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA in May 2018. Soon after, the United States began reimposing sanctions on Iran.
Nuclear activities continue
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday that Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium over the past three months, and it appears to have three undeclared atomic sites. Additionally, Iran on Thursday stood by its decision to deny U.N. nuclear inspectors access to sites where they have questions about past activities.
Citing the IAEA reports, Pompeo said Iran “continues to lie” about its nuclear activities.
"Given Iran’s prior covert nuclear weapons program, and the ignominious record of duplicity, any undeclared nuclear material activities in Iran are an extremely serious matter,” said the secretary of state.
Pompeo on Thursday urged all nations to hold Iran accountable to its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
"Otherwise, the NPT isn’t worth the paper that is written on,” noted Pompeo. “Our view is to isolate Iran, to put pressure on the Iranian regime to deny them resources to foment terror in Lebanon with Hezbollah and the Gaza Strip through Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] or the Shia militias in Iraq.”
The top U.S. diplomat said the U.S. and the remaining European members of the Iran nuclear deal sharply disagree about how to denuclearize Iran. But he welcomed the move by European signatories to initiate JCPOA’s dispute mechanism against Iran.
When asked if the U.S. would “petition the U.N. Security Council for a snap-back of sanctions on Iran,” Pompeo simply said he won’t get ahead of future decisions.
Pompeo will travel to U.N. headquarters Friday for a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.