The U.S. is calling for an extension of the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire later this year. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called for the U.N. Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran, warning the international body that Iran will start a new arms race in the Middle East. The secretary of state said, in the last year, Iran fired ballistic missiles at its neighbors, mined and captured oil tankers, smuggled weapons into conflict zones, and shot down a civilian passenger jet.
Iran’s Ambassador to the U.N., Majid Takht Ravanchi, rejected the U.S. pressure, calling it a violation of U.N. resolution 2231, which enshrines the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the JCPOA, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, international powers agreed to lift the arms embargo on Iran in October 2020 as part of an incentive package for the country’s concessions on its nuclear program. The deal has mostly fallen apart, as the U.S. left in 2018, and the following year Iran began announcing that it would roll back compliance with the deal’s terms.
Russia and China, two other parties to the JCPOA, have not shown interest in extending the arms embargo. Both countries have sold arms to Iran in the past and are said to be looking to supply Iran with new military equipment once the embargo ends. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in March that “[t]here are no grounds for” continuing the arms embargo past October 2020.
The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the United Nations, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement. In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.