Gulf states ask UN to extend arms embargo on Iran

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sent a letter to the UN Security Council amid US efforts to extend the weapons ban.

al-monitor A picture taken on May 18, 2017, shows the skyline of northern Tehran from the "Nature" bridge in the capital Tehran on the eve of the presidential elections.  Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 10, 2020

Several Gulf countries asked the United Nations to extend an arms embargo against Iran on Sunday.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sent a letter to the UN Security Council saying that Iran has not stopped its military activities under the embargo.

“Iran has continued to proliferate conventional weapons and arm terrorist and sectarian organizations and movements throughout the region,” the council said in a statement.

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 prohibits weapons transfers to and from Iran. It expires in October, and the end date is part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that former US President Barack Obama negotiated with the Islamic Republic. In 2018, the United States withdrew from the deal and US President Donald Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran as part of his “maximum pressure” strategy. The United States asserts that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, which Iran denies. The United States, Gulf states and Israel also oppose Iranian military support of its allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

The GCC consists of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Omar and Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are all close allies and staunch opponents of Iran. UAE diplomats did discuss COVID-19 cooperation with their Iranian counterparts this month, however. Qatar has somewhat better relations with Iran. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have not had diplomatic relations with Qatar since the 2017 diplomatic crisis, but Qatar remains a part of the GCC.

The Trump administration has been ramping up efforts this summer to get the arms embargo extended, saying it has the ability to reimpose pre-deal sanctions on Iran if the embargo is not extended. The GCC announcement shows the member states are on board with the US efforts.

The United States plans to submit a resolution to the UN this week on extending the embargo. Russia and China, who have veto power on the Security Council, as the United States does, are likely to oppose this.

On Monday, Iran slammed the recent efforts to extend the embargo as an anti-Iran policy led by the United States.

“The US is actively resorting to Iran-phobia & coercion,” Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Takht Ravanchi said in a tweet. “The Council must reject bullying & unilateralism."

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