GCC knows what is best for Mid East security; Iran sanctions will return: US official

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The United States will increase diplomatic consultations over the next month to reimpose the Iran arms embargo because nothing about Tehran's behavior says they should have the opportunity to buy weapons in October, a senior US State Department official said.

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“Iran took a wonderful, great opportunity that had been presented for them and they squandered that opportunity, so that's why we are where we are today,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told Al Arabiya English.

Washington submitted a formal complaint on Thursday to the United Nations regarding Iran's non-compliance with the 2015 deal, where Tehran vowed to stop developing nuclear weapons. In return, there would be an ease of sanctions.

Despite opposition from Europe, China and Russia, the United States is supported by the GCC, Israel and the Dominican Republic.

Iran and those siding with it, including Germany, France and the United Kingdom, said that the US has no right to implement what is referred to as the “snapback” mechanism because US President Donald Trump officially pulled out of the deal with Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday there was a difference between the political agreement, which the US withdrew from, and UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Ortagus told Al Arabiya English that there was “nothing about the behavior of the regime in Iran that would say that they need to have the ability to purchase conventional weapons in October.”

The deal was initially set to expire on October 18, but the US move has that up in the air.

“If anything, we should be doing more to curb [Iran's] illicit behavior, especially after how they've acted out over the past few years,” Ortagus said, citing the bombing of Saudi Arabian oil fields and attacks carried out by Iran-backed militias in the region.

Ortagus also criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for allowing the Iranian regime to “take those billions of dollars of sanctions relief in order to fund the Houthis in Yemen, to create and wreak havoc … in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.”

When asked what the US would do if UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres found that the sanctions could not be reimposed, the US official said she would preview any actions that US President Donald Trump has. “But we expect nations, companies, businesses and bankers around the world to abide by the sanctions,” Ortagus said.

She added that under Trump and even his predecessor, Barack Obama, the US had a successful track record of “very forcefully enforcing sanctions and we will continue to do so.”

The UNSC has ten days from the day in which the complaint was filed to introduce and pass a resolution to deny the reimposition of sanctions on Iran. If this does not happen, the sanctions automatically snap back in within 30 days of the complaint. But even if a resolution is drafted and introduced, the US has veto power, which would likely be used.

“We are always going to do the right thing and what we think is in the best of not only American citizens but our allies in the Gulf and Israel,” Ortagus said, praising the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) unified stance “for the first time in years” calling for the reimposition of sanctions.

The GCC countries are on the frontlines of any sort of attack that Iran would carry out to inflict harm in the region, Ortagus said. “And so, we stand by those allies and … they know what is best for their security and for the stability of the Middle East, but especially for the Gulf and that's why we are supporting them.”

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