Iran Will Export Weapons After U.S. Fails to Secure U.N. Arms Embargo

Iran's defense minister has said the country plans to export weapons as soon as sanctions preventing such sales are lifted, following the U.S. failure last week to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran.

Brigadier General Amir Hatami told reporters Sunday that sanctions have been unable to stifle Iran's arms industry, and vowed that the country "will use all capacities in the world to meet its arms requirements, selling and exporting weapons after sanctions removal," according to the Mehr News Agency.

Hatami was one of several Iranian officials to celebrate the American failure to convince the U.N. Security Council to extend the arms embargo, which is due to expire in October.

He said Iran's defense industry was part of its national "strategic depth" and suggested Tehran was ready to supply its goods to other nations, despite U.S. claims that such sales will destabilize the region.

But American efforts to extend the embargo—imposed as part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, i.e. the Iran nuclear deal—failed Friday. Russia and China opposed the extension, while another eleven members—including France, Germany and the U.K.—abstained.

Only the U.S. and the Dominican Republic voted in favor, prompting an angry condemnation from President Donald Trump's administration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after the vote: "The Security Council's failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable. The Security Council rejected direct appeals to extend the arms embargo from numerous countries in the Middle East endangered by Iran's violence," Pompeo said.

The U.S. has now threatened to unilaterally trigger an automatic extension to the arms embargo under the terms of the JCPOA. But Iran and the other signatories have argued that the U.S. cannot do so, as Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018. As a non-member, they argue, the U.S. has no legal right to trigger the snapback.

Regardless, Trump told reporters Saturday: "We'll be doing a snapback… You'll be watching it next week." U.S. officials have argued they can trigger the snapback because the Security Council resolution that enshrined the JCPOA names Washington, D.C. as a participant.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Monday that the Trump administration has "no leg to stand on" for a potential snapback. Zarif cited comments by former national security adviser John Bolton in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday, in which Bolton said the attempted snapback "isn't worth the risk."

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a video summit with the U.S. and the remaining JCPOA signatories—Russia, China, France, Germany, the U.K. and Iran—to try and avoid further "confrontation and escalation."

Asked if he would take part in the summit, Trump told reporters: "I hear there's something, but I haven't been told of it yet."

Since withdrawing from the JCPOA, Trump has embarked on a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, hoping to force its leaders to agree to a more restrictive replacement deal. Tehran has repeatedly rebuffed the efforts.

Mike Pompeo, Iran, arms embargo, UN, nuclear
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—who has been pushing for an extended arms embargo on Iran—is pictured at the National Congress in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on August 16, 2020. ORLANDO BARRIA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Getty