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Foiled in the Security Council: The United States, Extending Arms Embargoes and Iran

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Foiled in the Security Council: The United States, Extending Arms Embargoes and Iran


Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

There are no official policing authorities as such when it comes to international relations.  Realists imagine a jungle of states, the preyed upon and the predators, a grim state of affairs moderated by alliances, agreements and understandings. But there is one body whose resolutions are recognised as having binding force: the Security Council, that most powerful of creatures in that jumble known as the United Nations.

To convince the permanent five on the Security Council to reach agreement is no easy feat.  There are the occasional humiliations in the failure to get resolutions passed, but whether it be the US, Russia, China, France or the UK, wise heads tend to prevail.  Best put forth resolutions with at least some chance of garnering support.  Rejection will be hard to take.

On August 14, a degree of humiliation was heaped upon the US delegation.  Washington seemed to have read the situation through fogged goggles, assuming that it would get the nine votes needed to extend arms restrictions on Iran due to expire in October under Resolution 2231.  Of the 15 members, only two – the United States and Dominican Republic – felt the need to vote for it.  Russia and China strongly opposed it; the rest were abstentions.  Previous warnings that any such quixotic effort was bound to fail had been ignored.

The body most shown up in all of this was the US State Department and, it followed, its indignant chief Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  “The UN Security Council failed today to hold Iran accountable,” he raged on Twitter.  “It enabled the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell deadly weapons and ignored the demands of countries in the Middle East.  America will continue to work to correct this mistake.”  He also called the position taken by Britain and France “unfortunate”, as it had only been the US view to “keep the same rules that have been in place since 2007.”

US ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, took it personally, giving the impression that she saw it coming in the diplomatic tangle.  “The United States is sickened but not surprised by the outcome of today’s UNSC vote.  The Council’s failure to extend the Iran’s arm embargo is a devastating blow to the Council’s credibility.” She also promised that the US would “not abandon the region to Iranian terror and intimidation, and when we look for partners in that effort, we will look beyond the UN Security Council.”

The humiliation gave Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi much room to gloat.  “In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” he confidently asserted.  “Despite all the trips, pressure, and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country [to vote] with them.”

There was much that sat oddly in this enterprise.  It showed a US effort strongly driven by the anti-Iranian Middle East coven of Arab Gulf states, along with Israel.  That said, the position amongst those states is not uniform either.  In the words of Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Settlement of Disputes, “Iran is a neighbouring country with which we have good neighbourly relations, and it has a position that we value in the State of Qatar, the government and the people, especially during the unjust blockade on Qatar.”

Absurdly, Pompeo has promised to see how the US might rely on a provision in the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action it unilaterally left in 2018, which permits a “snapback”.  Triggering it would entail a return to the full complement of UN sanctions against Iran.  This novel take was also given an airing by Craft.  “Under Resolution 2231, the United States has every right to initiate snapback of provisions of previous Security Council resolutions.”

In April, Reuters noted the view of a European diplomat that it was “very difficult to present yourself as a compliance watcher of a resolution you decided to pull out of.  Either you’re in or either you’re out.”  Samuel M. Hickey from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also warned in May that invoking the snapback provision, especially by a non-party, “would not only underscore US isolation on the global stage, it might also undermine the effectiveness of the UNSC by creating a dispute over the validity of a UNSC resolution.”  Russia and China expressed similar readings: it was a bit rich to trigger provisions in an agreement so publicly repudiated.

Iran, in turn, huffed at the very idea of a snapback through its UN ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi.  “Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited.”

This entire act of gross miscalculation did its fair share of harm, though not in the sense understood by Pompeo and his officials.  It spoke to a clumsy unilateralism masquerading as credible support; to great power obstinacy misguided in attaining a goal.  It was not the UN Security Council that had failed, but the US that had failed it, an effort that many at the UN are reading as directed at torching the remnants of the Iran nuclear deal.  The assessment of the US effort by former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was sharp and relevant.  “You got the Dominican Republic on board (how much did that cost the US taxpayer?)  Not a single other nation voted with you!  The shining city on the hill has been reduced to a glow, like the embers of a dying fire.”

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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chris chuba

This is a win for Iran but the gasoline Piracy is a bigger loss because a non-reaction means the bully will strike again. Here is my free advice to Iran.

1. Respond quickly, take something from the U.S. or the UAE and declare that this is a response to the piracy of your gasoline shipment to Venezuela. You want to make this a conflict between the Trump Administration and Iran and not let them make it ‘America’ vs. Iran. The longer you wait, the more time you give the Trump Admin to make up more lies about Iran, they have already told CNN that Iran offered bounties to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

2. Don’t wait for the next election for a ‘Biden Administration’. Even if he wins it will not make a difference. The only thing the bully understands is a strong response. But it is important to make it clear, even to the evil, immoral liars on FOX that you hijacked XXX, because we stole 1 million gallons of your gasoline. The majority of dullards, even the ones in the U.S. know this is wrong but only if you act quickly.

chris chuba

I read the Iranian Minister’s comments carefully and I think he is playing it this way. He said it was FOB in the Persian Gulf meaning that it is Venezuelan and not Iranian gasoline. Therefore, the U.S. federal court decision does not apply to the pirated cargo. A clever way to sidestep the issue for now but even if that works the U.S. will still keep the gasoline in Houston saying, ‘ha, no one is allowed to ship it to Venezuela’.

AM Hants

I remember 2014, the UN voting on Crimea. 100 voted the way the US wanted, 11 backed Russia and 82 abstained or refused to vote. The bill never got the figures to pass.

Last week I watched ‘Official Secret’, the film where the GCHQ whistleblower leaked the US were using pressure and tactics to force an UN vote into Saddam WMDs to support US position, back in 2003. Remember Colin Powell and his fake vial, in the UN and John Bolton threatening the director of the OPCW, back in 2003.

Now 2020, the US can only force one small nation to vote in support of US demands. Oh dear, how the mighty have fallen, thankfully.

chris chuba

Abstain is a vote against the U.S. because if the country actually votes against the U.S. they know that they might become become the next Bolivia or Venezuela. Does anyone really believe that the Dominican Republic is scared of Iran? LOL, no but I bet they are terrified of the U.S.

AM Hants

It is interesting how they are haemorrhageing power.

johnny rotten

All this shows how false the propaganda campaigns on the army and the most powerful weapons in the galaxy are, they have a fucking fear that Iran will acquire the modern Russian and Chinese weapons systems, and they are right to be afraid of them because this will be inevitable, and if they really think they are going to war on Iran now they are finally starting to understand that they will be badly defeated.


Good, now Iran can soon buy some modern weapons from Russia and China. Their air force in particular needs a major overhaul.

chris chuba

Especially if they want to post a credible threat to the B2’s on Diego Garcia. Could you imagine the howling if Iran bought two squadrons of Russian Mig31’s, their fastest, highest altitude interceptor and then let Iran practice intercepting their newest bombers?

That might even be more and combat effective than trying to buy some of Russia’s latest fighters. But buying a few Su35’s would be good in other role’s but you need to deter the long range bombers that we love to wave in their face.

Zionism = EVIL

Americunts are a lardass JOKE, enough said on this matter :)

cechas vodobenikov

pitiful humiliation…where r the CIA paid comments here–Jenny, spncy, Jackie, kammy,etc?

chris chuba

Still celebrating the death and destruction in Beirut.

1. Dead Arabs of all stripes, 2. A chance to blitz western MSM on demonizing Hezbollah w/completely wrong and irrelevant articles, ‘Hez. been stockpiling Amm. Nitrate in other countries (lie) therefore …’, ‘the Lebanese are protesting against Hez/Iranian control of Lebanon …’

For them, what’s not to love?


Nobody cares about the ISISraeli deal with the even more rotten UAEs, nobody, but the yankikes, like it matters, so Trumpstein could at least brag of something, even when its completely irrelevant, I cant see anything real or game changing with this eh…. deal, since UAE have been the vassals of the Brits and the Imperial banana republic as long I can remeber. UAE, uh, like Quatar, 300 princes and a TV station and their only asset, for now, is an truck loads of cash, the day this crashes, then they have to sell their own asses to have something to put on the table by that I mean food for them self.

Otherwise, when the Yankikes have snapped completely, threatening everybody, incl Germany whom wanted Russian Gass instead of the yankikes “freedom gass?” hehe, you wounder whats next, and Trumpsteins freign policy witch have and is, more or less an copy of the Godfather trilogy what do you expect, sooner or later even their most faithfull bitches have figured out that whom need enemys when you have the Yankikes running loose and claims they are friends, of course with an hint of knee capping if you as much as diviate an inch from the ravings of the Yankike Gov with scums like “we lie, steal and cheet” Pompeous in front, an banana republic run by Robber barons, and as if that isnt enough, is burning, and the even more insane Q-tards, ugh… dunka dunka.


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