NEW YORK/WASHINGTON – The United States is pushing ahead with its bid to extend an international arms embargo on Iran by way of a second draft U.N. Security Council resolution, despite what some diplomats say is a lack of enthusiasm for such a move among its 15 members.
The U.S.-drafted resolution needs at least nine votes in favor to force Russia and China to use their vetoes, which Moscow and Beijing have signaled they will do. Some diplomats question whether Washington can even secure those nine, however.
“We have tabled a resolution that we think accomplishes what we think needs to be accomplished,” U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook told the Aspen Security Forum, held virtually, on Wednesday.
“The easy way is to do a rollover of the arms embargo,” he said. “It’s not difficult. There’s all the reasons in the world to do it. But we will do this, one way or another.”
The arms embargo on Iran is set to end October 18 under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Washington quit in 2018.
The second draft circulated by Washington is virtually unchanged from the first text shared with the council in June.
Return of all sanctions
If the United States is unsuccessful in extending the embargo, it has threatened to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Iran under a process agreed to in the 2015 deal.
Such a move would kill the deal, touted as a way to suspend Tehran’s suspected drive to develop nuclear weapons. Washington argues it can trigger the sanctions because a Security Council resolution still names it as a participant.
Iran has breached parts of the nuclear deal in response to the U.S. withdrawal and Washington’s reimposition of sanctions.
“For as long as Iran is allowed to enrich, we’re going to be having this discussion: How close is Iran to a nuclear breakout? … We need to restore the U.N. Security Council standard of no enrichment,” Hook said.
Iran denies it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb.
Diplomats say Washington would face a tough, messy battle if it tried to trigger a return to sanctions.
The United States would have to submit a complaint to the council, which would then have to vote within 30 days on a resolution to continue Iran’s sanctions relief. If such a resolution is not put forward by the deadline, sanctions would be reimposed — what is known as a snapback.
Some diplomats have suggested the United States will submit its complaint by the end of August to ensure the 30 days ends in September, before Russia takes the monthly rotating council presidency in October.