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‘Hopeful’ US to extend arms embargo on Iran, ‘negative’ Russia

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WASHINGTON / NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States has “good hope” that the United Nations Security Council will extend an arms embargo against Iran before its expiration in October, a senior official with the Department of ‘US state, despite a key Russian official reporting that Moscow opposed such a decision.

FILE PHOTO: Brian Hook, United States Special Representative for Iran, speaks at a press conference in London, Britain, June 28, 2019. REUTERS / Simon Dawson

Brian Hook, the United States Special Representative for Iran, said that the United States had drafted a Security Council resolution on the issue, which would require nine votes for and no veto from Russia, China, from the United States, Great Britain or France to pass.

Some diplomats say the United States would likely be hard pressed to get Iranian allies Russia and China to allow an extension of the arms embargo. But Hook repeatedly disagreed at a press conference, saying, “We hope.”

“Russia and China have great values ​​in a peaceful and stable Middle East, and Iran’s sectarian violence and its arms exports are today the main driver of instability in the Middle East”, said Hook.

He also hinted that Washington has no plans to move forward quickly in its campaign to extend the arms embargo.

“Our goal is to engage in thoughtful and measured diplomacy with all parties concerned to successfully negotiate a renewal of the United Nations arms embargo,” he said. “We will focus on this in the coming months.”

Russian Ambassador to international organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told Russian newspaper Kommersant on Tuesday that Moscow was opposed to such a decision.

“They are well aware of our negative attitude towards this stage and would work on a fallback option,” said Ulyanov, who previously held the post of head of the department’s non-proliferation and arms control department. Russian Foreign Affairs.

The fallback option is for Washington to trigger the return of all UN sanctions against Iran if it fails to get the Security Council to extend the arms embargo – a confirmed strategy Monday by an American official. Diplomats said Washington would face a disorderly battle if it carried out the threat.

Washington has shared the strategy and a proposed arms embargo with Britain, France and Germany, the US official confirmed. The diplomats said the draft resolution had not been shared with the other 11 members of the Council, including Russia and China.

The United States believes this could trigger a so-called snapback of all UN sanctions against Iran, including the arms embargo, using a process described in the 2015 agreement between the Iran and the world powers which prevented Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for a reduction in sanctions.

“Their reasoning is ridiculous,” said Ulyanov.

This is a decision that can be challenged, diplomats said, as US President Donald Trump left the nuclear deal in 2018 and described the Barack Obama presidency deal as “the worst deal in all the time”.

Hook declined to say what further Washington would do if the United States failed to extend the Security Council’s arms embargo.

“The arms embargo must be renewed and we will use all diplomatic options to achieve it,” he said.

Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis

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