Every U.N. Security Council Member but U.S. Supports Iran Deal at Virtual Meeting

Every member of the United Nations Security Council except for the United States expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal at an open virtual meeting.

Tuesday's webcast session involved representatives from all five permanent Security Council members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) as well as 10 rotating members (Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam), as well as Iran, the European Union and the U.N. itself.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the first to speak and took the opportunity to criticize what he called a "flawed" nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was endorsed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231. Washington joined top European powers, as well as Beijing and Moscow, in signing the agreement with Tehran back in 2015. But the Trump administration abandoned the accord two years ago, accusing the Islamic Republic of backing foreign militias and engaging in ballistic missile development that was viewed as a threat to regional security.

The U.S. exit and its decision to impose unilateral sanctions have hampered Europe's compliance with the agreement. With significant pressure now on the accord, Pompeo has sought to convince the remaining parties to the agreement to disallow the lifting of an arms embargo on Iran set to expire in October as part of the nuclear deal.

"This chamber has a choice: Stand for international peace and security, as the United Nations' founders intended, or let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire, betraying the U.N.'s mission and its finest ideals, which we have all pledged to uphold," Pompeo said.

"If you fail to act, Iran will be free to purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000-kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs," he added.

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Representatives of U.N. Security Council members, as well as those representing Iran, the European Union and the U.N., hold a virtual open session to discuss the Iran nuclear deal on June 30. Some representatives replaced others throughout the session, so Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not share the screen with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. U.N. Web TV

Pompeo has faced criticism for a tweet he shared last week, which he claimed showed that Iran could use Chinese Chengdu J-10 and Russian Sukhoi Su-30SM jets to reach 1,646 kilometers and 3,000 kilometers, respectively. As a result, he said, "Europe and Asia could be in Iran's crosshairs." These figures, however, represented, the distance for one-way flights, eliciting mockery, including comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said it proved Pompeo was "desperate to mislead the world" on Iran.

Zarif joined the session later but never shared the screen with Pompeo, who left shortly after his speech. He was replaced by U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft, whose Iranian counterpart, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, was on the video call until Zarif signed on and defended Tehran from accusations that it was the one engaged in destabilizing activities in the Middle East.

"It's long overdue for the international community, and in particular this council, to
hold U.S. government accountable for the consequences of its wrongful acts—including its malicious endeavors to wage economic terrorism on the entire Iranian nation, willfully deprive them of food and medicine, and irreparably harm their economy and their standard of living," Zarif said.

"The United States must fully compensate the Iranian people for all damages it has inflicted upon them—appallingly, for no reason other than to satisfy domestic constituencies and personal aggrandizement," he added.

Zarif also condemned the U.S. killing in January of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, at Iraq's Baghdad International Airport, a move that sent shockwaves throughout the region. The top Iranian diplomat also began and ended his remarks with quotes from former Iranian Prime Minister Mohamad Mossadegh, who was overthrown during a 1953 coup backed by the U.S. and the U.K. more than a quarter-century before the Islamic Revolution established the current government.

As for the nuclear deal, the top Iranian diplomat said his country's decision to reduce commitments was justified by measures within the JCPOA itself, which allows Iran to mitigate its participation should sanctions be reintroduced.

Most diplomats at Tuesday's online gathering criticized both the U.S. decision to leave the agreement as well as Iran's steps away from it. China and Russia were the most vocally opposed to the Trump administration's approach to the issue, which has threatened a resumption of international sanctions if the arms embargo on Iran is not extended.

After Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Zhang Jun said that the U.S. "has no right" to trigger the sanctions snapback since leaving the deal, Security Council representative Christoph Heusgen of Germany said, "I would also align myself with what my Chinese colleague just said about the snapback mechanism."