US calls for European support to extend arms embargo on Iran

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The American ambassador to the UN called on France, Germany and the United Kingdom to propose a compromise measure to obtain an extension of the arms embargo against Iran, saying that “her patience is very slim”.

The Trump administration faces defeat in the UN Security Council after voting Thursday night on a proposal released this week to extend an arms embargo on Iran indefinitely, which is due to expire in October. The results of the vote are expected Friday afternoon.

“I don’t play chicken – it’s way too serious to play chicken,” Kelly Craft, U.S. ambassador to the UN, told the Financial Times in an interview about her final talks with the European trio on Thursday, known as E3.

Ms. Craft said that E3, which sits on the UN Security Council and is a signatory to the agreement with Iran, told her that they had suggestions for the US resolution, but that they had not yet provided anything in writing.

“It’s a shame that I don’t have something in writing from them, because if I did, then that would obviously be another starting point that we could use to really come up with a simple arms embargo.” , she said. “I have to be very honest with you, my patience is very thin.”

European countries are trying to find a compromise that reflects their own security concerns about Tehran without falling into the nuclear deal, which either Russia or China could support.

Various temporary extension proposals “have been circulating within E3 for several months,” said Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group. It has also been suggested that the arms embargo could be partially lifted while still excluding certain sensitive weapon systems such as anti-ship missiles.

Responding to Ms Craft’s comments, a British spokesperson said he was working with his E3 partners and consulting with members of the UN Security Council. France and Germany did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States has threatened to trigger so-called UN sanctions against Iran if it fails to secure the extension of the embargo. Such a move would automatically reinstate the embargo.

This would likely result in a failure of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which has failed since the United States pulled out in 2018. Diplomats said the move could come as early as next week.

The E3 said any unilateral attempt to impose the resumption sanctions would have “serious and adverse consequences” in the UN Security Council. They want to work with Russia and China, both of which have veto rights, to agree on an extension.

“The problem with E3 is that they don’t want to deposit anything that China, Russia and Iran can’t accept,” Gowan said. “If China or Russia ends up vetoing an E3 draft, it will play in the hands of the United States and make the snapback even more likely. So E3s work under time pressure to find a magical chord that everyone is happy with, but it just might not exist.

UN Security Council diplomats have said the United States does not have the right to trigger resumption sanctions, since Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

The United States circulated its legal argument to members of the UN Security Council on Thursday afternoon.

A six-page version of the United States legal analysis, obtained by the FT, claimed that the United States had “an explicit right” to initiate resuming sanctions under the UN resolution that approved the nuclear deal, and that any argument to the contrary “would set a perilous precedent which could threaten the strength of virtually any decision of the Security Council.”

Earlier this week, the United States abandoned a harsher version of the embargo resolution, which faced some defeat in the UN Security Council. But his compromise offer also seemed doomed to fail after Estonia and Tunisia, two countries considered friends of the United States, refused requests to introduce the resolution on Washington’s behalf.

“You know, I’m not very popular right now, but that’s okay,” Ms. Craft said.

To follow @KatrinaManson on Twitter

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