Netanyahu Slams 'Scandalous' UN Vote Against Extending Iran Arms Embargo

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In this photo released on July 28, 2020, a Revolutionary Guard's speed boat fires a missile during a military exercise.
In this photo released on July 28, 2020, a Revolutionary Guard's speed boat fires a missile during a military exercise.Credit: Sepahnews via AP

Israeli government officials condemned on Saturday the defeat at the United Nations of a U.S. bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “scandalous.”

“We will continue to act in close cooperation with the US and countries in the region to block the Iranian aggression,” said Netanyahu, adding that the United Nations Security Council, where only the U.S. and the Dominican Republic backed the request to extend the sanctions on Friday, was thereby encouraging arms sales. 

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said the UNSC vote was “a mistake” that could lead to dangerous consequences in the Middle East, while a Foreign Ministry statement slammed the outcome of the vote and said it wished to emphasize that the UNSC “was formed precisely for the purpose of preventing regimes like the Iranian ayatollah regime from amassing military strength to be used in their plans for regional military and ideological domination.”

File photo: An official looks at the empty chairs of leaders ahead of their participation in an open debate of the United Nations Security Council in New York, September 20, 2017.Credit: AFP

At the UN on Friday,  Russia and China opposed extending the weapons ban, which is due to expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while Washington and the Dominican Republic were the only yes votes.

"I don't remember the United States preparing a resolution for months to strike a blow at the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it garners only one vote," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech. "But the great success was that the United States was defeated in this conspiracy with humiliation."

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, said that "The Security Council's opposition to extending the arms embargo on Iran is a disgrace. Instead of allowing the murderous terrorist regime in Tehran to acquire lethal weapons, the council should have imposed crippling sanctions on it.” 

"The Security Council's failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. "The Security Council rejected direct appeals to extend the arms embargo from numerous countries in the Middle East endangered by Iran's violence."

The United States could now follow through on a threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, known as snapback, even though President Donald Trump abandoned the accord in 2018. Diplomats have said the United States could do this as early as next week, but would face a tough, messy battle.

Diplomats have said such a move would put the fragile nuclear deal further at risk because Iran would lose a major incentive for limiting its nuclear activities. Iran already has breached parts of the nuclear deal in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the pact and unilateral sanctions.