The UN Security Council kicked off voting Thursday evening on a US resolution that would indefinitely extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, a measure strongly opposed by Russia and China.
The US administration called for the vote hours after US Ambassador Kelly Craft urged European nations that support the nuclear deal with Iran to put in writing their ideas to extend the expiring arms embargo on Tehran, indicating that Washington may be willing to compromise on its demand for an indefinite extension.
In an interview with The Associated Press (AP), Craft said the US was “keeping the space open” for talks with Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China.
The five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council still support the 2015 agreement with Iran aimed at preventing the country from acquiring nuclear weapons, which US President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018.
Asked about reports the Europeans have talked about a six-month extension of the arms embargo, Craft replied: “They mentioned six months. They mentioned a one-year (extension). They mentioned other elements. They’ve mentioned a code of conduct, and I haven’t seen anything in writing.”
The Trump administration has said repeatedly it will not allow the arms embargo provision in the Security Council resolution endorsing the nuclear deal to expire as required on Oct. 18 — a commitment reiterated by Craft.
The US initially circulated a resolution to the 15-member council to indefinitely extend the arms embargo which was seven pages long and had 35 paragraphs. This week, following discussions with council members who voiced objections to a number of provisions, it circulated a revised draft that stripped the resolution to just four paragraphs calling for an indefinite extension.
Meanwhile, foreign ministers of Russia and China, in separate letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council last month, were sharply critical of the US effort to indefinitely extend the arms embargo. They gave every indication they would veto any such resolution if necessary.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the US of waging a politically motivated campaign against Iran and said Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement and now has no legal right to try to use the UN resolution endorsing the deal to indefinitely continue the embargo.
Also, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the arms embargo should be lifted Oct. 18. and argued that since Washington is no longer a party to the nuclear deal it “has no right to demand the Security Council to activate the rapid reinstatement of sanctions” through the “snap back” provision.
Craft said council members face a choice between “sponsoring terrorism” or promoting international peace and security.
“We have a moral responsibility to make certain that this murderous regime does not have access any longer to exporting and to arming its proxies,” she stressed.
According to AP, the results of the email voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to be announced on Friday evening.