U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to present a legal argument that the United States is still a “participant state” of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in May 2018 in an effort to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran that is scheduled either to be lifted in the fall or to have even harsher sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic, reported The New York Times over the weekend.

Since then, the United States has reimposed sanctions lifted under it, along with enacted new financial penalties against the regime.

The reported strategy would come as the United States has begun to make known a U.N. Security Council resolution to extend the 2010 arms embargo on Iran—a resolution that is all but guaranteed to fail as China and Russia would likely each exercise its permanent veto on the council. The Russians have already stated their intention of resuming the trade of arms to the Islamic regime.

Were such a resolution to fail, the United States is expected to unilaterally activate the snapback sanctions under the deal that would include restoring previous U.N. bans on Iran, which were lifted under the nuclear deal, including the arms embargo.

“We cannot allow the Islamic Republic of Iran to purchase conventional weapons in six months,” Pompeo told The New York Times in a statement. “President [Barack] Obama should never have agreed to end the U.N. arms embargo.”

He added that “we are prepared to exercise all of our diplomatic options to ensure the arms embargo stays in place at the U.N. Security Council.”

Richard Goldberg, who served in the Trump administration as the director for countering Iran’s weapons of mass destruction at the White House National Security Council, told JNS that the action Pompeo seeks to take at the United Nations is bigger than the nuclear deal itself.

“Secretary Pompeo has successfully reframed the issue at hand,” he said. “Snapback isn’t about ending the Iran nuclear deal per se; it’s about preventing Russia and China from destabilizing the Middle East and threatening broad Western security interests by supplying fighter jets, tanks and missile parts to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

Goldberg continued, assuring that “the U.S. will now press for a vote inside the Security Council to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran and then, if Russia vetoes such an extension as promised, proceed to snapback hopefully with European support.”

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