Foreign Policy for America Statement on the Failed Iran Arms Embargo Vote

August 14, 2020

Foreign Policy for America Statement on the Failed Iran Arms Embargo Vote

Washington, DC – In response to the Trump administration’s failed attempt at the UN Security Council to extend the arms embargo, Foreign Policy for America released the following statement:

Today’s vote at the UN Security Council is a reflection of the Trump administration’s failed Iran policy. Even though the Trump administration tried to soften its initial maximalist resolution, the result of the vote shows this was a doomed attempt from the start. This was likely little more than a thinly veiled attempt to justify a future – possibly imminent – bid to invoke the “snapback” sanctions provision in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

An attempt by the United States to snapback the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, ostensibly under the guise of extending the arms embargo, is not only questionable legally, given that the Trump administration withdrew from the deal. But it could also put the JCPOA at further risk, isolate the United States even more, and undermine the credibility of U.S. sanctions going forward. These reckless actions are the culmination of the failed “maximum pressure” campaign that has not yielded any of the outcomes outlined by Secretary Pompeo in May 2018.

By setting up a showdown at the UN Security Council, the Trump administration is unnecessarily hurtling towards an outcome that will further isolate the United States. It will use a failed attempt to extend the arms embargo as an excuse to invoke “snapback” — a cynical ploy that will only further highlight U.S. failure on Iran policy. The Trump administration should take the rejection of their attempt to extend the arms embargo as a rejection of their approach to Iran.

“The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran is reaching its logical conclusion: an attempt to wipe out the JCPOA or make it that much harder for Vice President Biden to salvage it should he win in November,” said Rob Malley, Crisis Group CEO, FP4A advisor, and former White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. “Today’s vote was the equivalent of the administration going through the motions: an effort to extend the UN arms embargo against Iran whose failure was preordained. Its next step will be to try to snap back UN sanctions, a right reserved to JCPOA participants that the administration, despite its loudly broadcast exit from the deal over two years ago, absurdly claims for itself. None of this should distract from what has become evident – that the administration’s Iran policy has failed – or from what remains the priority: to preserve the deal and avoid a wholly unnecessary and wholly fabricated nuclear crisis.”

“Trump’s only interest at this time is his re-election, and he sees maximum punishment of Iran as a means to this goal,” said Thomas Countryman, FP4A advisor and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation. “The UNSC vote demonstrates how much he has isolated the U.S. from the rest of the world. His actions make further instability in the Middle East still more likely.”