US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is speaking at a news conference announcing the Trump administration’s restoration of sanctions against Iran at the US State Department in Washington on September 21, 2020.
Patrick Semansky | Pool | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Sunday that the United States will impose sanctions on any person or entity that assists Iran̵
“For the past 10 years, countries have refrained from selling arms to Iran under various UN measures. Any country that now challenges this ban will very clearly choose to provoke conflicts and tensions in terms of promoting peace and security,” he said. Pompeo in a Sunday statement. .
“Any nation that sells weapons to Iran has impoverished the Iranian people by enabling the regime to divert funds away from the people and towards the regime’s military objectives,” he added.
The threat comes after a decade-long UN arms embargo against Iran officially expired on Sunday as part of the nuclear deal agreed with the world powers in 2015.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that “The Islamic Republic of Iran can provide all necessary weapons and equipment from any source without any legal restrictions and based solely on its defensive needs.” However, Tehran said it does not intend to go on a purchase of conventional weapons.
Under the UN arms embargo, exports of “certain conventional weapons to Iran” and “purchases of weapons or related equipment from Iran” are in violation of the UN Security Council resolution and are subject to sanctions.
However, in August, the UN Security Council refused to support a US effort to widen the arms embargo on Iran. China and Russia voted against Washington’s efforts, while even close US allies such as Britain, France and Germany abstained. Only the United States and the Dominican Republic voted in favor of an extension.
In response, the United States unilaterally reintroduced UN sanctions against Tehran last month through a snapback process that other members of the UN Security Council have previously said Washington does not have the authority to carry out because it withdrew from the 2018 nuclear deal.
The same week that the United States reintroduced the UN sanctions, the Trump administration raised even more. Pompeo, flanked by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin and Trade Minister Wilbur Ross, said the administration would sanction Iran’s entire Defense Ministry.
“Whoever you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions,” Pompeo said in an address on September 21. “Our actions today are a warning to be heard around the world,” he added.
Esper followed Pompeo’s remarks, saying the Pentagon was “ready to respond to future Iranian aggression” and urged Tehran to “behave like a normal country.”
“We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior. In doing so, we protect our people and our interests and maintain the security of like-minded nations throughout the region,” Esper added.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have grown after President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the milestone Iranian nuclear deal in 2018, calling it “the worst deal ever.”
The 2015 agreement lifted sanctions against Iran, which paralyzed the economy and cut oil exports by about half. In return for sanction easing, Iran accepted limits on its nuclear program until the terms expire in 2025.
Trump has previously said the United States wants to reach a broader agreement with Iran that sets stricter limits on its nuclear and ballistic missile work and suppresses the regime’s role in regional proxy wars. Tehran has refused to negotiate while US sanctions remain in place.
Following Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, other signatories to the pact – France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China – tried to keep the deal alive.
Earlier this year, a US strike that killed Iran’s top military commander triggered the regime to further reduce compliance with the international nuclear pact. In January, Iran said it would no longer limit its uranium enrichment capacity or nuclear research.