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US fails to extend Iran curbs

Russia and China opposed extending the weapons ban, which is supposed to expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a summit of world leaders to avoid “confrontation” over a US threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Tehran

Reuters   |   Moscow, New York   |   Published 16.08.20, 12:15 AM

The US lost a bid on Friday to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran as Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a summit of world leaders to avoid “confrontation” over a US threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Tehran.

In a UN Security Council vote, Russia and China opposed extending the weapons ban, which is supposed to expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while Washington and the Dominican Republic were the only yes votes.

“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defence of international peace and security is inexcusable,” US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said in a statement after the vote that the result “once again shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail.”

The US could now follow through on a threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, known as snapback, even though President Donald Trump abandoned the accord in 2018. Diplomats have said the US could do this as early as next week, but would face a tough, messy battle.

“In the coming days, the United States will follow through on that promise to stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo,” US ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said in a statement.

Diplomats have said such a move would put the fragile nuclear deal further at risk because Iran would lose a major incentive for limiting its nuclear activities. Iran already has breached parts of the nuclear deal in response to the US withdrawal from the pact and unilateral sanctions.
Iran’s UN ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi warned the US against trying to trigger a return of sanctions.

“Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited. And the US and any entity which may assist it or acquiesce in its illegal behavior will bear the full responsibility,” he said in a statement. 

Putin on Friday proposed a video summit with the US and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, China, Germany and Iran — to try to avoid further ”confrontation and escalation” at the UN over Iran.

“The issue is urgent,” Putin said in a statement, adding that the alternative was “only further escalation of tensions, increasing risk of conflict — such a scenario must be avoided”.

 Asked if he would take part, Trump told reporters,“I hear there’s something, but I haven’t been told of it yet.” French President Emmanuel Macron is open to taking part in a video summit. 

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