US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference to announce the resumption of sanctions against Iran by the Trump administration at the US State Department in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2020.
Patrick Semansky Swimming pool Reuters
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Sunday that the United States would impose sanctions on any person or organization that promotes Iran̵7;s weapons program, which is likely to further escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran.
“Over the past 10 years, countries have refrained from selling weapons to Iran through various UN measures. Any country that is now challenging the ban will very clearly choose conflict and tensions to promote peace and security,” Pompeo said in a statement on Sunday.
“Any country that sells weapons to Iran impoverishes the Iranian people by allowing the regime to redirect funds to the people and to the regime’s military purposes,” he added.
The threat comes after a decade-long UN arms embargo against Iran, which officially ended on Sunday as part of a nuclear deal agreed with world powers in 2015.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry has announced that “the Islamic Republic of Iran may purchase any necessary weapons and equipment from any source without any legal restrictions and solely on the basis of its defense needs.” However, Tehran has stated that it does not intend to continue to buy conventional weapons.
According to the UN arms embargo, the export of “certain conventional weapons to Iran” and “the purchase of any weapons or related materials from Iran” violate a UN Security Council resolution and are subject to sanctions.
However, the UN Security Council in August refused to support US efforts to extend the arms embargo against Iran. China and Russia voted against Washington’s efforts, while even close US allies such as Britain, France and Germany abstained. Only the United States and the Dominican Republic voted in favor.
In response, the United States unilaterally imposed UN sanctions on Tehran last month through a rapid feedback process that other members of the UN Security Council have previously said Washington has no authority to comply with since it withdrew from the 2018 nuclear deal.
The same week that the United States imposed UN sanctions, the Trump administration grew even more. Pompeo, who was surrounded by Defense Minister Mark Esper, Finance Minister Stephen Mnuchin and Trade Minister Wilbur Ross, said the administration sanctioned Iran’s entire defense ministry.
“No matter who you are, if you violate the UN embargo on armed action against Iran, you risk sanctions,” Pompeo said in a September 21 address. “Our actions today are a warning to be heard around the world,” he added.
Esper followed Pompeo’s remarks, saying the Pentagon was “ready to respond to Iran’s future aggression” and called on Tehran to “act like a normal country.”
“We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior. By doing so, we will protect our people and our interests and preserve the security of like-minded countries throughout the region,” Esper added.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated since President Donald Trump’s rejection of a landmark nuclear deal in Iran in 2018, calling it “the worst deal in history.”
The 2015 agreement lifted sanctions against Iran, crippling its economy and halving oil exports. In exchange for easing sanctions, Iran has adopted restrictions on its nuclear program until the end of 2025.
Trump has previously said the United States wants a broader agreement with Iran that tightens restrictions on its work with nuclear and ballistic missiles and suppresses the regime’s role in regional proxy wars. Tehran has refused to negotiate while US sanctions remain in place.
After Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal, other countries that signed the pact – France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China tried – tried to keep the agreement.
Earlier this year, a US strike that killed Iran’s top military commander prompted the regime to further reduce compliance with the international nuclear pact. In January, Iran said it would no longer limit uranium enrichment and nuclear research.