US Loses Iran Arms Embargo Bid as Putin Pushes Summit to Avoid Nuclear Deal Showdown

The United States lost a bid on Friday to extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran as Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a summit of world leaders to avoid “confrontation” over a U.S. threat to trigger a return of all U.N. sanctions on Tehran.

In a U.N. Security Council vote, 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.

“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.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a statement after the vote that the result “once again shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail.”

The United States could now follow through on a threat to trigger a return of all U.N. 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.

“In the coming days, the United States will follow through on that promise to stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said in a statement.

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.

Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi warned the United States against trying to trigger a return of sanctions.

“Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited. And the United States and any entity which may assist it or acquiesce in its illegal behavior will bear the full responsibility,” he said in a statement.


Putin on Friday proposed a video summit with the United States and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, China, Germany and Iran – to try to avoid further “confrontation and escalation” at the United Nations over Iran.

“The issue is urgent,” Putin said in a statement, adding that the alternative was “only further escalation of tensions, increasing risk of conflict – such a scenario must be avoided.”

Asked if he would take part, Trump told reporters, “I hear there’s something, but I haven’t been told of it yet.” French President Emmanuel Macron is open to taking part in a video summit, the Elysee palace said.

The United States has argued that it can trigger a sanctions snapback because a U.N. Security Council resolution enshrining the nuclear deal named Washington as a participant. But the remaining parties to the deal are opposed to the move.

Putin said Russia, an ally of Iran in the Syrian civil war, remained fully committed to the nuclear deal and that the aim of a summit would be to outline steps aimed at avoiding “confrontation and escalation of the situation in the Security Council.”

Trump has said he wants to negotiate a new deal with Iran that would prevent it from developing nuclear weapons and also curb its activities in the region and elsewhere. Trump, who has walked away from a series of international agreements, has dubbed the 2015 nuclear deal – reached under his predecessor Barack Obama – “the worst deal ever.”

Diplomats have said several countries would argue that the United States legally could not activate a return of sanctions and therefore simply would not reimpose the measures on Iran themselves.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper and Michel Rose; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Alistair Bell and Will Dunham)


  1. hey delbert, Trump is a failure only in a hating ball-less weak pussies view. Nations know better than mess with us, and letting the arms drop like it did and the sansions not put back on Iran just means we can nuke the shit outta them & Putin knows it. its time for Iran to get whats coming to them. But 1st we need to get haters like yourself outta America!!

  2. Delbert here are some facts after Trump was only in office for 1 1/2 years. Get out of the fantasy world you live in.

    Trump has overcome internal resistance and external pressure to deliver an as yet uninterrupted string of foreign-policy successes: North Korea’s “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un hasn’t launched a rocket in ten months; America’s NATO allies are finally starting to deliver on pledges to increase defense spending toward the 2 percent of GDP target agreed in 2006; Mexico has seemingly come to terms on long-overdue NAFTA reforms; the United States has stayed out of the Arab world’s interminable wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen; and the U.S. embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem in May without sparking the Third Intifada predicted by Trump’s opponents.

    Perhaps just as important (from a U.S. perspective), America’s long-term enemies are nearly all on the run. The Russian economy is crumbling. The Venezuelan economy has crumbled. The Iranian economy, which boomed after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, has come back down to earth since Trump took office, and stagnated since he pulled the United States out of the deal in May.

    And then there’s China. Back in December 2016, just a few weeks before Trump took office, China staged a “Trump Test,” exactly as predicted by U.S. Naval War College Professor Andrew S. Erickson. A Chinese ship sent marines on a speedboat to seize a surveillance drone from under the stern of a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey vessel. President Barack Obama politely asked for the return of the device. President-elect Trump told China to keep the drone—and implied that things would get tougher when he took office.

    Under the Obama administration, Chinese forces regularly harassed U.S. vessels navigating the South China Sea. That doesn’t happen under the Trump administration. What’s more, China is now enforcing UN sanctions against North Korea, cooperation that has been crucial to bringing Kim to the nuclear bargaining table. And though China regularly threatens and bullies Taiwan, it has done little more than issue bland propaganda statements in response to expanding U.S. weapons sales to the island.

  3. Phyllis- what did Obama do in 8 years regarding Iran having nukes? He only escalated the idea and gave Iran billions to
    do so.

  4. Trump’s diplomacy is one failure after another, and this is only the latest example. The man seems to have no clue about what nations do.

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