Close to 400 Congress Members Urge Pompeo for Arms Embargo on Iran

An October deadline is fast approaching
May 4, 2020 Updated: May 5, 2020

A bi-partisan letter has been sent by hundreds of U.S. congress members urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to increase diplomatic efforts against Iran’s terrorist activities and renew a United Nations arms embargo that expires in October.

“We write to urge increased diplomatic action by the United States to renew the expiring United Nations arms embargo against Iran and United Nations travel restrictions on those Iranian individuals involved with dangerous proliferation activities,” the lawmakers wrote.

“America must continue its longstanding, bipartisan leadership in order to limit Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world,” they added. “We look forward to working with you to reauthorize these expiring U.N. restrictions, which are essential to protecting our national security and the American people.”

As of Monday, the letter had close to 400 signatures.

The United States will not allow Iran to purchase conventional arms after the U.N. prohibition expires in October, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press briefing on April 29.

“We will work with the U.N. Security Council to extend that prohibition on those arms sales. And then in the event we can’t get anyone else to act, the United States is evaluating every possibility about how we might do that,” he said.

The letter to Pompeo was initiated by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“The U.N. arms embargo will be the first provision of the Iran nuclear deal to expire. This letter, supported overwhelmingly by both parties in the House, represents an imperative to reauthorize this provision—not through snapback or going it alone, but through a careful diplomatic campaign,” Engel said in a statement.

McCaul said, “This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, or even just an American issue. We need to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran for the sake of international peace and security. I am proud the House is speaking with one voice to protect the world against Iran’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior.”

House lawmakers, urged Pompeo to work with allies to renew the arms embargo.

“We urge you to work with allies and like-minded partners, including through a new United Nations Security Council resolution, to extend these provisions in order to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons, while also working to increase accountability for violations of the existing embargo,” they wrote. “We also urge you to make clear to the international community that U.S. sanctions on Iranian arms transfers remain in place and will be fully enforced.”

The congress members also expressed concern about the expiring U.N. travel restrictions on certain Iranian actors: “As we work to extend the U.N. travel restrictions, we should also take steps to ensure that they cover all of Iran’s most dangerous actors and are fully enforced.”

Some of Iran’s most notorious individuals “have long violated U.N. proliferation and weapons restrictions,” according to the statement. It added that keeping restrictions in place would be a way to ensure national security.

The lawmakers want Pompeo to expand the U.N. travel list to include the new Quds Force leader Esmail Ghanni who replaced Gen. Qassem Soleimani who was killed by a U.S. drone strike earlier this year.

The embargo on conventional arms sale was imposed on Iran by the U.N. Security Council as a part of the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015 in a separate resolution, and is due to expire on Oct. 23 if no action is taken, Pompeo said. This will allow China, Russia, and other countries to sell conventional weapons to Iran, he added.

Pompeo added that the United States was urging the E3 states of FranceGermany, and the UK as signatories of the Iran nuclear deal to take action to prevent the Ayatollah regime from obtaining conventional weapons, “which is within their capacity to do,” Pompeo said on April 29.

A U.S.-drafted resolution to extend the embargo has been given to the three countries, a U.S. official confirmed. But U.N. diplomats said it has not been shared with the remaining 11 U.N. Security Council members, according to Reuters.

The State Department was not immediately available to respond to The Epoch Times request for comment on the lawmakers’ letter.

Ella Kietlinska contributed to this report