Saudi FM urges extension of UN arms embargo on Iran

Adel al-Jubeir said a shipment of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement was seized as recently as Sunday.
Monday 29/06/2020
US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29. (REUTERS)
US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 29. (REUTERS)

RIYADH--Saudi and US officials on Monday urged the international community to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran, saying that letting the ban expire would allow Tehran to further arm its proxies and destabilise the region.

The 13-year-old arms curbs on Iran are due to expire in October under the terms of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Russia and China have signalled they oppose extending the embargo. Both wield vetoes on the UN Security Council, which will decide the matter.

“Despite the embargo, Iran seeks to provide weapons to terrorist groups, so what will happen if the embargo is lifted? Iran will become more ferocious and aggressive,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a joint news conference with US Iran envoy Brian Hook in Riyadh.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook attend a joint news conference, in Riyadh. June 29. (REUTERS)
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook attend a joint news conference, in Riyadh. June 29. (REUTERS)

Jubeir said a shipment of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement was seized as recently as Sunday. A Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen for five years.

The conference venue displayed weapons, including drones and missiles, that Saudi authorities said were used in cross-border Houthi attacks on Saudi cities and that were supplied to the group by Tehran.

“We urge the international community to extend the embargo on selling arms to Iran and on Iran’s ability to sell arms to the world,” Jubeir said.

Iran denies arming groups in the Middle East, including the Houthis, and blames regional tensions on the United States and its allies in the region.

Hook said lifting the ban would “only embolden” Tehran, drive greater instability and trigger a regional arms race.

“This is not an outcome that the UN Security Council can accept. The council’s mandate is clear: to maintain international peace and security,” Hook added.

Before arriving in Saudi Arabia, Hook met in Riyadh with Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and  Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash

The US already has the support of key European nations for its drive to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany on Friday said June 19 they opposed lifting a UN arms embargo on Iran this year.

“We believe that the planned lifting of the UN conventional arms embargo established by Resolution 2231 next October would have major implications for regional security and stability,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

The ban on selling weapons — such as battle tanks, combat aircraft, warships and missiles or missile systems — to Iran had been set to be progressively eased from October.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani earlier this month urged UN Security Council members to oppose a US “conspiracy” to extend the arms embargo.

The three European powers said they plan to address the arms embargo issue “in close coordination” with UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China.