US working with Gulf allies to assist efforts to extend Iran arms embargo: Pompeo

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The United States is working with its Gulf partners to assist in efforts to extend the Iran arms embargo while the US also provides defense assistance to counter Tehran’s missile capabilities in the region, the top US diplomat said Thursday.

“We remain concerned about missile proliferation – frankly throughout the region, certainly from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in a phone briefing.

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Asked if the US was holding any discussions with its GCC allies and if there were plans to boost their defense systems in the face of Iranian threats, Pompeo said Washington was working with Gulf state partners, “not only to get them to assist the United States effort to extend this arms embargo – which is very, very important for them – but second, we’ve provided a great deal of assistance.”

Pompeo pointed to US sales of weapons to regional partners and other ways “to help provide security in the face of an increasing capability of the Iranians to fire missiles all throughout the region.”

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The purpose of these measures is to “ultimately establish a set of missile capabilities that is robust enough to defeat missile defenses throughout the region, but strike in places that go beyond even just their near neighborhood,” he added.

The UN arms embargo on Iran is set to expire in October. Washington has been conducting substantial diplomatic efforts to garner support for an open-ended extension citing threats and recent attacks against regional countries by Iran.

Pompeo’s calls come on the heels of last week’s UN Security Council meeting, where a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres revealed that cruise missiles used in several attacks on oil facilities and an international airport in Saudi Arabia last year were of “Iranian origin.”

“We think that would be tragically dangerous for the region and create instability throughout the Middle East,” Pompeo warned if the arms embargo expires.

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