US Issues Warning as Iran Promotes Potential End of Arms Embargo

Iranian President Rouhani hails coming end to Iran arms embargo. Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

While the international community has been concerned about Iran’s “breakout” time in which they could rush to build nuclear weapons, a different clock is ticking down to less than a year: the lifting of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran next October. The restriction against Iran selling or buying weapons is currently scheduled to be relaxed in 11 months as part of the Iran nuclear deal—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday in a speech pointed to that benefit as a key reason for staying in the JCPOA.

“If we stay in the JCPOA according to [UN] Resolution 2231, Iran’s arms embargo will be lifted next year and we can easily buy or export our required weapons, which is one of the major effects of the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said, according to the Iranian Presidency’s website. He later called it a “major political, security and defense goal.”

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter also highlighted this countdown on Monday, but pointed out that the UN Security Council can still stop the embargo from being removed.

Tweeted Pompeo, “@HassanRouhani’s best pitch for IRAN staying in the disastrous Iran deal is that it lets the Islamic kleptocrats that lead that country buy and sell drones, missiles, tanks, jets, and more. He will get his wish, unless UNSC extends the arms embargo before it expires 10/18/20.”

This isn’t the first time Pompeo has raised this concern. Back in September, the top US diplomat told the UN Security Council that the US was “already tracking very closely” the end of the arms embargo and had even posted a countdown clock to the State Department’s Iran website.

“Time is drawing short to continue this activity of restricting Iran’s capacity to foment its terror regime,” said Pompeo of the arms embargo, in comments published by the State Department. “The international community will have plenty of time to see how long it has until Iran is unshackled to create new turmoil, and figure out what it must do to prevent this from happening.”

The ticking countdown to Iran being able to buy and sell weapons comes as Iran has repeatedly walked back their responsibilities in the nuclear accord, while claiming the incremental violations of the JCPOA are in response to Europe not providing promised economic benefits under the deal.

Rouhani, in his speech on Monday, noted that rather than exit the JCPOA completely, they had chosen an in-between approach that gradually undid the restrictions on their nuclear program so they could continue to retain the other benefits of the JCPOA, such as the lifting of the arms embargo. Incredibly, Europe has so far allowed Iran to take that approach.

The current Iran nuclear crisis comes after the US exited the JCPOA last year and renewed crippling sanctions on Iran. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the time had come for Europe to renew sanctions on Iran as well.

“It’s time for the nations of the world to resist Iran’s aggression and terror. It’s time to snap back sanctions,” said Netanyahu in comments published by his office.

“It’s time to pressure Iran until it changes its ways. Iran must stop attacking the nations of the Middle East. Iran must stop threatening to destroy Israel. Europe must stop stalling. It must act against Iranian aggression now.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, November 11, 2019)

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