The Trump administration’s strategy in Iran will face a key test this week as the United States calls for a vote at the United Nations on its resolution to extend an arms embargo against the Islamic Republic.
If the resolution fails – which experts say is the most likely scenario – the Trump administration has threatened to call for immediate sanctions, which supporters of Iran’s nuclear deal fear could bring the deal to its knees.
Gambit also risks further alienating the United States from its allies, who continue to support the Joint Action Plan (JCPOA) nuclear deal and have opposed the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Tehran.
“The Trump administration knows the gun embargo will not be renewed and, more than anything, this is a boost for them to try to call the snapback and destroy what is left of the JCPOA,”; said Ilan Goldenberg, senior fellow i Center for a New American Security.
At issue is a UN Security Council resolution adopted in 2015 in support of the nuclear deal between Iran and some world powers that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine Tests Negatively for Coronavirus for the Second Time Some GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut consequences present evidence of US aid to ally frustration more withdrew the United States from 2018. Under the resolution, a ban on imports and exports of conventional arms straight to and from Iran is set to be lifted Oct. 18.
This past week, the Secretary of State Mike PompeoThe aftermath of Michael (Mike) Richard PompeoBeirut presents evidence of US aid to irritate allied advocacy groups opposed to Trump’s election as ambassador to Germany US pledges millions in disaster aid to Lebanon more said the Security Council will vote next week on a US resolution extending the embargo.
“The proposal we have presented is extremely reasonable,” Pompeo told a news conference. “One way or another, we will do the right thing. We will ensure that the arms embargo is extended.”
But Russia and China, which have veto power over the UN Security Council, have already rejected the US offer.
In the face of possible defeat, Pompeo has threatened another tactic: argue that the United States remains a party to the nuclear deal as set out in the Security Council resolution despite Trump withdrawing from the deal. Doing so could allow the United States to call for a repeat of all UN sanctions that were in force before the nuclear deal, thus extending the arms embargo.
“We are deeply aware that the moment is an option available to the United States, and we will do everything within America’s power to ensure that the arms embargo is extended,” Pompeo said. “I’m sure we will be successful.”
The United States will have to impose fast-return sanctions by September 17 to impose them until the arms embargo expires.
In an additional twist, senior State Department envoy to Iran Brian Hook announced his departure from the administration on Thursday. He will be replaced by Elliott Abrams, who has been the administration’s best envoy to Venezuela since 2019.
Over the past few months, Hook has traveled the world seeking to build support for the U.S. resolution to extend the arms embargo, with little apparent success. In a virtual appearance at the Aspen Security Forum a day before his resignation, Hook stressed support for extending the embargo between the Gulf nations and Israel, adding that “no one thinks what is missing from the Middle East are more Iranian weapons. “
Abrams, a tough line in Iran, is perhaps best known for pleading guilty to withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra affair. He was later pardoned by President George HW Bush.
“The removal and replacement of Hook by Abrams – a tough, veteran Middle Eastern and Latin American veteran – raises risks associated with the final months of Trump’s first term,” political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a statement. note to customers and media this past week.
The firm said last month that the United States, calling for immediate sanctions, “would increase overall tensions with Iran and introduce new uncertainty in the Iranian leadership’s calculations” and “could force Iran to take more action.” dangerous in the nuclear field, or retaliate for the JCPOA rapid shooting in Iraq or the region. “
The arms embargo itself has bipartisan support among US lawmakers as well as support among the European allies of the United States.
But the Trump administration’s approach as it seeks to garner international support for renewing the embargo has listed the same allies.
“The other JCPOA signatories do not necessarily want to see the arms embargo lifted, but they see Trump’s actions as dishonest and simply aim to assassinate the JCPOA,” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statutes. .
A European diplomat echoed that position on The Hill.
“In general we would support the arms embargo, but we do not like some of the unilateral sanctions that the US is imposing on Iran,” the diplomat said.
In a phone call Friday with French President Emmanuel MacronThe aftermath of Emmanuel Jean-Michel MacronBeirut presents evidence of US assistance to Lebanese police ally in tear gas fire on protesters on the eve of France blast to demand coronavirus tests for those entering the country from the US Reaches Out, Trump discussed “the importance of extending the UN arms embargo on Iran,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
When Pompeo took his argument for extending sanctions directly to the Security Council in a speech in June, representatives of Britain, France and Germany expressed concern about the expiration of the embargo and the threat of the United States calling for immediate sanctions.
“It is very unfortunate that the United States left the JCPOA and in doing so violated international law,” said German Ambassador to the UN Christoph Heusgen at the June virtual meeting.
Whether the United States pre-sets sanctions eventually kills the nuclear deal depends on how Iran responds, said Barbara Slavin, director of the Iran Future Initiative at the Atlantic Council.
“Everything will depend on what the Iranian response will be, and it is a bit difficult to predict,” she said. “I still think they will just shout and shout and say it is illegal and that they still intend to come back to the deal if a future US administration does, especially if they have strong support from the Russians and the Chinese.”
It is also possible, she said, that even if the Trump administration claims victory in re-imposing sanctions, other countries will ignore sanctions, especially Russia and China, which are the countries most likely to sell arms to Iran.
“Other members of the Security Council will reject the US position on doing so after the United States announced that it was no longer a participant in the JCPOA, even if it wishes to claim otherwise,” she said. “So it will be a colossal mess.”
A UN Security Council diplomat similarly raised the possibility that member states would not impose sanctions despite US efforts
“They can try to get the UN to impose additional sanctions, as the early return mechanism requires, but if member states do not want to do that, they will not impose those sanctions,” the diplomat told The Hill.
However, the Goldenberg Center for New American Security argued that the 2015 Security Council resolution is “a key piece of architecture that keeps alive what remains of the JCPOA.”
If you wait, you can cancel the whole deal. “No one knows what will happen,” he said. “The administration’s position is that lifting the arms embargo is absolutely unacceptable. But their real position is, we want to break the JCPOA, and we think we can use that to do that. “