NEW YORK: The US has suffered a humiliating defeat at the United Nations as its proposal to extend a global arms embargo on Iran was resoundingly rejected by the member states with only one country supporting it.
In the Security Council vote on Friday, Washington got support only from the Dominican Republic for its resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption.
Eleven members on the 15-member body, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, abstained.
Russia and China strongly opposed extending the 13-year ban, which was due to expire on October 18 under a 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and six world powers.
The scale of the defeat on Friday underlined US isolation on the world stage ahead of a major diplomatic confrontation that threatens to consume the security council and further sap its authority.
In his response to the vote, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, lashed out at other member states.
“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” he said in a statement issued even before the result of the vote had been declared.
Israel and the six Arab Gulf nations who supported the extension “know Iran will spread even greater chaos and destruction if the embargo expires”, Pompeo said, “but the Security Council chose to ignore them”.
Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said in a statement that the result “once again shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail”.
Washington 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 US President Donald Trump had unilaterally abandoned the accord in 2018. On Thursday, the US had circulated to council members a six-page memo outlining why Washington remains a participant in the nuclear accord and still has the right to use the snapback provision.
The US’s failed bid is a diplomatic catastrophe. It demonstrates that President Trump and his team are not only bad at the strategy of approaching Iran, they are bad at the day to day tactics of diplomacy. It is unconscionable that it couldn’t round up more than one vote for a resolution like this.” – Jarret Blanc, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
In a statement after the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said Washington has “every right to initiate” the snapback mechanism, and added: “In the coming days, the United States will follow through on that promise to stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo.”
Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi warned Washington 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 United States and any entity which may assist it or acquiesce in its illegal behavior will bear the full responsibility,” he said in a statement.
Jarret Blanc, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Al Jazeera the US’s failed bid amounted to a “diplomatic catastrophe”.
“It demonstrates that President Donald Trump and his team are not only bad at the strategy of approaching Iran, they are bad at the day to day tactics of diplomacy. It is unconscionable that the US couldn’t round up more than one vote for a resolution like this.”
While voting on the US draft resolution was under way, Russia said its President Vladimir Putin called for a meeting of leaders of the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany and Iran to avoid escalation over US attempts to extend the Iranian arms embargo.
In statement released by the Kremlin, Putin said “the question is urgent”, adding that the goal of the videoconference would be “to outline steps to avoid confrontation and exacerbation of the situation in the UN Security Council”.
“If the leaders are fundamentally ready for a conversation, we propose to promptly coordinate the agenda,” Putin said. “The alternative is to further build up tension, to increase the risk of conflict. This development must be avoided.”
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