Iranian Diplomat Hails 'Clear Reality' of U.S. Defeat as Arms Embargo Expires

Iran's ambassador to the United Kingdom hailed the lifting of an international arms embargo on his country Sunday, saying this signaled the "clear reality" of a U.S. defeat.

A United Nations embargo preventing Iran from purchasing foreign weapons, such as fighter jets and tanks, expired on Sunday, despite significant objections from the U.S. Although tensions have been high between the U.S. and Iran for decades, the administration of President Donald Trump has maintained a hardline stance against the Islamic Republic after a brief period of improving ties under former President Barack Obama.

"Today the international community once again expressed support for multilateralism and openly opposed to the U.S. attempt to prevent the implementation of one of the significant achievements of international diplomacy [sic]," Iran's Ambassador to the U.K. Hamid Baeidinejad told Iran's Islamic Republican News Agency on Sunday.

"The U.S. has been defeated in its diplomacy and this is a clear reality," he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also welcomed the end of the embargo.

"A momentous day for the international community, which— in defiance of malign US efforts—has protected UNSC Res. 2231 and JCPOA," Zarif said in a Twitter post. "Today's normalization of Iran's defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region."

In a statement emailed to Newsweek by the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to sanction anyone selling weapons to Iran.

"The United States is prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran, as well as those who provide technical training, financial support and services, and other assistance related to these arms," he said.

The U.S. attempted to extend the 13-year U.N. embargo against Iran back in August. In a U.N. Security Council vote, only two nations—the U.S. and the Dominican Republic—voted to reimplement the embargo moving forward. Meanwhile, Russia and China voted against the resolution while the other 11 council members abstained from voting—leading to the measure's failure.

The Security Council "rejected a reasonable resolution to extend the 13-year-old arms embargo on Iran and paved the way for the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell conventional weapons without specific U.N. restrictions in place for the first time in over a decade," Pompeo said in a statement at the time.

"The Security Council's failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable," he said.

The Trump administration's position against Iran is largely out of step with the international community. While U.S. allies in Europe aim to continue improving ties with the Persian Gulf nation, the Trump administration has implemented a series of stringent sanctions against the country after withdrawing from the landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal.

Javad Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif welcomes Cornel Feruta, acting head of the U.N. atomic watchdog, upon his arrival to the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran on September 8, 2019 ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty

The Iran deal was approved under Obama's administration in conjunction with the European Union, the U.K., Germany, France, Russia and China. The agreement offered Iran sanctions relief and international investment in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. Although Iran remained in compliance with the treaty, according to consistent reports from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, Trump withdrew from the treaty in 2018.

Trump then reimplemented punitive sanctions against Iran, despite the objections and condemnation of European allies. On October 8, the U.S. again added further sanctions targeting 18 major Iranian banks. "Our maximum economic pressure campaign will continue until Iran is willing to conclude a comprehensive negotiation that addresses the regime's malign behavior," Pompeo said in a statement.