Iran Celebrates U.S. 'Defeat' in U.N. Arms Embargo Push

Iran has claimed victory over President Donald Trump's administration after the U.S. met opposition and ambivalence in its push to extend a United Nations arms embargo currently in place on Tehran that will expire in October.

President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the failure of the other U.N. Security Council members to agree to the embargo was proof that Trump's "maximum pressure" strategy on Iran was failing.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a virtual UNSC meeting on Tuesday that failure to extend the embargo would allow Iran to purchase Russian fighter jets and threaten Europe, upgrade its navy to threaten the Persian Gulf, arm its Middle Eastern proxies and become "a rogue weapons dealer" to countries like Venezuela and Syria.

But Russia and China both rejected his appeal outright, while traditional American allies were hesitant to back the American approach, The New York Times reported. European representatives said that though they backed limits on Iran's access to weapons, they would not support it via a Security Council action.

The UNSC meeting also reiterated backing for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal—and urged both the U.S. and Iran to return to compliance with the landmark deal.

Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018 claiming he would negotiate a better deal, a promise he has so far been unable to deliver. Iran had been ending compliance piecemeal since, though it said it would no longer comply with any part of the agreement after the U.S. assassinated senior commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in January.

Rouhani told a cabinet meeting Wednesday that the U.S. had "suffered another defeat" at the UNSC, the state-run Press TV channel reported. The arms embargo failure and the JCPOA backing by other members represented "two major political setbacks" for the Trump administration, he said. The UNSC meeting "once again showed another American political defeat against the Islamic Republic," he claimed.

Rouhani also said Iran would return to full compliance with all JCPOA obligations as soon as all the other signatories do the same. The president also attacked European signatories for not doing enough to protect the agreement against American attacks.

"We waited for a whole year and remained committed to all of our obligations, but they did not do anything," he told the cabinet meeting. "In the second year, we gradually took five steps away from the deal. Again, they did not do anything."

The U.S. has threatened to forcibly re-apply United Nations sanctions against Iran via a JCPOA "snapback" clause if the arms embargo is not extended. But the other signatories to the deal—Russia, China, the U.K., France, Germany and the European Union—have said the U.S. cannot use JCPOA mechanisms given Trump's withdrawal.

The president has called on Iran to sign a new nuclear deal with him before he faces former Vice President Joe Biden in November's election. The Trump administration has demanded limits on Tehran's ballistic missile program and measures to curtail its regional influence, but Iran has flatly rejected a renegotiation of the deal.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran, US, arms, embargo, JCPOA
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the inaugural session of the new parliament following February elections, in Tehran, Iran on May 27, 2020. -/AFP via Getty Images/Getty