US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded the alarm on Thursday about the possibility of Iran acquiring Chinese and Russian jets if the current arms embargo imposed by the UN security council is not renewed in October.
Speaking via a video conference organised by the German Marshall Fund think tank, Mr Pompeo warned the Europeans about the prospect of the embargo expiring in less than four months.
“In October of this year, the arms embargo will expire. That can’t happen, or the Iranians will be permitted to buy weapons systems," he said.
"They’ll become one of the largest sellers of weapons systems around the world. They’ll be able to buy Chinese jets and Russian jets.
“I can’t imagine that a citizen of Slovenia or Germany or Greece or any other European country would conclude that it was wise to allow the Iranians to have that capability…the United States is going to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
But Mr Pompeo expressed hope that the UN security council, despite current opposition from Russia and reluctance from China, would extend the embargo.
“We have a UN Security Council resolution that we’ll present in the coming weeks. We are hopeful that we will convince all of the partners on the UN Security Council that extending the arms embargo on Iran makes sense,” he said.
On Wednesday, Mr Pompeo threatened to impose multilateral sanctions if the embargo is not renewed.
“If at any time the United States believes Iran has failed to meet its commitments, no other state can block our ability to snap back those multilateral sanctions,” he said from the State Department.
But that would require the Trump administration to return to the Iran nuclear deal that it abandoned in 2018, in order to activate such sanctions.
“Our great preference is to have a Council resolution that would extend the arms embargo, but we are determined to ensure that that arms embargo continues."
US ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, briefed the Security Council on the proposed resolution.
The Security Council is set to meet again and debate it in full on Tuesday.
Mr Hook referenced Iran’s September 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia as evidence that “Iran has neither abided by current restrictions nor demonstrated a change in its threatening behaviour.”