U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently told the UN Security Council: "Iran is already violating the arms embargo, even before its expiration date. Imagine if Iranian activity were sanctioned, authorized by this group, if the restrictions are lifted. Iran will be free to become a rogue weapons dealer, supplying arms to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the far reaches of Afghanistan." (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
While Iran's ruling mullahs have been celebrating their rewards from the nuclear deal -- which, by the way, Iran never signed -- according to its terms, the arms embargo against the Islamic Republic is scheduled to be lifted on October 18, 2020.
On June 30, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged the United Nations Security Council to extend the arms embargo on Iran. The Security Council, however -- particularly China -- was reluctant to do so. The UN Security Council's unwillingness seems yet another indication of why the United States, having pulled out of the Human Rights Council and threatening to pull out of the World Health Organization in 2021, should finally go all the way and pull out of the whole "Club of Thugs" that the United Nations has become. At the very least, as has been suggested, "We pay for what we want. We insist [on] what we get, what we pay for. We abolish the system of mandatory contribution...."
Rather than being the cure for world peace, the UN is now a major obstacle to world peace. The Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky, once suggested at a meeting attended by Gatestone that if delegates to the UN are not allowed to vote in their own countries, they also should not be allowed to vote at the UN. The United Nations appears to have turned into a place that, instead of preventing war, preserves war.
The primary objective of any nuclear talks with Tehran should have been to halt Iran's nuclear program permanently, thereby eliminating the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the region and removing the strategic threat that a nuclear armed Iran would pose to the world.
However, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations at the time, "Let's establish a mechanism for a number of years. Not 10, not 15 — but I'm willing to live with less."
So, the "sunset clauses" -- a glide-path to legitimate nuclear capability -- were given to the ruling mullahs -- in exchange, apparently, for nothing. The sunset clauses essentially allow the Iranian regime, after the period of the agreement, to resume enriching uranium at a level they desire, spin as many advanced centrifuges as they want, make its reactors fully operational, build new heavy water reactors, produce as much nuclear fuel as it desires for its reactors, and maintain higher uranium enrichment capability with no restrictions.
The previous US administration submitted to Zarif's demands and accepted the deal, which promised shortly to repeal all sanctions on Iran's regime and pave the way for lifting the UN arms embargo against it.
"When the [arms] embargo...is lifted next year we can easily buy and sell weapons... This is one of those important impacts of this [nuclear] agreement... By remaining in the deal, we would reach a huge political, defensive and security goal [in 2020] ... It would be a huge political success."
Most likely, then, sophisticated weapons could fall into the hand of the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Iran's terror and militia groups such as the Houthis, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) -- which is a conglomerate of more than 40 militia groups -- causing yet more conflict and instability in the Middle East.
The previous administration granted that dangerous reward to the ruling mullahs of Iran with total disregard to the concerns of other countries in the region. As Pompeo told the UN Security Council last month:
"Don't just take it from me or the United States, listen to countries in the region, from Israel, the Gulf, countries in the Middle East who are most exposed to Iran's predations are speaking with a single voice: extend the arms embargo".
In June 2020, the UN also found that the missiles which had slammed into a Saudi oil complex last year were of "Iranian origin". UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out in the semi-annual report which was sent to the Security Council that "these items [weapons used in the attack] may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent with" UN resolutions.
According to the UN Resolution 2231:
"... all States are to take the necessary measures to prevent, except as decided otherwise by the Security Council in advance on a case-by-case basis, the supply, sale, or transfer of arms or related materiel from Iran by their nationals or using their flag vessels or aircraft and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran."
However, not only has the UN been refusing to take any action, such as imposing sanctions on the Iranian regime, despite Iran's smuggling weapons and munitions to militia groups; the international body also appears perfectly willing to lift the arms embargo against Iran.
As Pompeo highlighted:
"Iran is already violating the arms embargo, even before its expiration date. Imagine if Iranian activity were sanctioned, authorized by this group, if the restrictions are lifted. Iran will be free to become a rogue weapons dealer, supplying arms to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the far reaches of Afghanistan."
In short, thanks to the previous US administration, the Iranian regime, the top state sponsor of terrorism, is about to be legally free to buy and sell, and import and export, advanced weapons across the world.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu