Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia on 30 June slammed the US at the UN Security Council for pursuing a “maximum suffocation” foreign policy against Iran, adding that Washington’s objective was to “achieve regime change or create a situation where Iran literally wouldn’t be able to breathe”.
#Небензя: На #Иран целенаправленно давят со всех сторон. Цель – осуществить «смену режима» или же создать ситуацию, в которой Иран буквально не сможет дышать. Это сродни тому, чтобы надавить кому-то на шею коленом. #СВПД pic.twitter.com/iwEkaGATGH— Russian Mission UN (@RussiaUN) July 1, 2020
“This is like a putting a knee to one’s neck,” said Nebenzia, in a veiled reference to the death of black arrestee George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck. The incident has since sparked protests across the US and in other countries.
The Security Council was meeting on 30 June to discuss a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that had determined that cruise missiles used in a number of attacks targeting oil facilities and an international airport in Saudi Arabia last year were allegedly of “Iranian origin”.
‘Law of the Jungle’
Vassily Nebenzia’s statement came after last week the US introduced a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would extend the arms embargo on Iran before it expires in mid-October.
At the virtual Security Council meeting on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressured member states to support the extension.
“Don’t just take it from the United States, listen to countries in the region. From Israel to the Gulf, countries in the Middle East who are most exposed to Iran’s predations are speaking with one voice: Extend the arms embargo,” Reuters cited Pompeo as saying.
The US has already warned that if it fails to gain support for its move, it would trigger, at the Security Council, a return of all UN sanctions on Tehran under the Iran Nuclear Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite having withdrawn unilaterally from it in 2018.
Veto-powers Russia and China have already voiced their opposition to the move.
The other remaining signatories to the deal, Britain, France and Germany, all expressed concern to the council over the US proposal, citing major implications for regional security and stability.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council not to surrender to the "law of the jungle" by supporting Washington’s proposal.
“The international community in general—and the UN Security Council in particular—are facing an important decision: Do we maintain respect for the rule of law, or do we return to the law of the jungle by surrendering to the whims of an outlaw bully?” said Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has long argued against lifting the arms embargo on Iran, which is set to end in mid-October under Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal.
In line with the JCPOA deal Iran signed with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and the European Union, Tehran committed to scaling back its nuclear program and downgrading its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief. The latter also included lifting the arms embargo five years after the accord was adopted.
In 2018, the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, accusing Tehran of violating its commitments, and unleashed wide-ranging sanctions against Iran, targeting its oil and metal industries, financial and banking sectors, trade and weapons development, in addition to travel bans and asset freezes.
In a tweet in early June, Donald Trump reiterated Washington’s call for a new deal with Tehran aimed at introducing stricter limits on Tehran’s nuclear work, curbing its ballistic missile programme.
Iran has since breached parts of the nuclear deal in response to the move, while maintaining that the process is reversible if the European parties to the pact carry out their promises to shield Iran’s economy from US penalties.
Iran also suggested it was open to talks with Washington if it apologised for exiting the nuclear deal and compensated Tehran.