Middle East Desk
DUBAI: Iran on Wednesday called on Russia and China to resist a push by Washington to extend a U.N.-imposed arms embargo due to expire in October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been taking a harder line with the United Nations to extend and strengthen the embargo on Iran, warning that its lifting would let Tehran acquire weapons that could fuel conflicts in the Middle East.
“Americans are already angry, upset, and wanting to take this issue to the Security Council. We want four permanent members of the (U.N. Security) Council to stand up to America,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech.
“Particularly, we expect Russia and China to resist this U.S. plot. America will not succeed … and we will increase our defence capabilities as we have been doing so even under sanctions.”
Tehran and its rival Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, have been involved in proxy wars and political confrontations in the region for decades, from Iraq and Syria to Bahrain and Yemen. Council veto-powers Russia and China have already signalled they are against re-imposing an arms embargo on Iran.
If the U.N. Security Council does not extend the embargo, Washington has threatened to trigger a so-called snapback of all U.N. sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, using a process outlined in the nuclear deal.
However, Russia and China, both parties to the deal, have already started making the case at the United Nations against Washington’s claim that it can trigger a return of all sanctions on Iran at the Security Council.
The United States withdrew from the deal in 2018, arguing it was flawed to Tehran’s advantage, and has reimposed sanctions crippling Iran’s economy. Under the adeal, Iran agreed to halt its sensitive nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the accord since the United States quit. The nuclear deal allows for a return of sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, if Tehran violates the deal. Iran on Wednesday announced more than 2,000 new coronavirus infections, in line with a recent surge in cases that President Hassan Rouhani attributed to increased testing.
“When more tests are done, then naturally more cases are identified,” Rouhani told a televised meeting of his cabinet. But the high number of recent cases “does not have a negative aspect to it, and people should not worry”, he added. Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the 2,011 infections confirmed in the past 24 hours had raised Iran’s overall caseload to 177,938. She added that fatalities had reached 8,506 with 81 new deaths over the same period. The ministry says it has carried out more than one million Covid-19 tests since it reported the country’s first cases on February 19.