If arms embargo on Iran isn't extended, Tehran will arm its proxies: US envoy to UN

US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft in Washington, DC, United States. (AFP)

If the arms embargo on Iran isn't extended, Tehran will supply its proxies in the region with even more weapons, US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told Al Arabiya.

She said that would not only jeopardize the safety of countries in the Middle East but also the American forces in the region and added that US President Donald's Trump administration will employ all the tools at its disposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

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“There is so much danger not just the Iranian people, but to the Middle East, to the entire world, to the American military that is placed all around that region,” Craft said in an interview with Al Arabiya's New York Bureau Chief Talal al-Haj.

Last week the UN Security Council had discussed in a virtual meeting a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that determined that cruise missiles used in several attacks on oil facilities and an international airport in Saudi Arabia last year were of “Iranian origin.”

The US has been pushing to extend the arms embargo on Iran before it expires on October 18.

“[Do] we want to wake up October 19 knowing that there are now conventional weapons being sold to Iran so that they can then transfer those to their proxies and also to rogue states that have terrorist organizations? Everyone knows full well what will happen on that date, and it’s not just the Iranians, it’s the entire Middle East,” Craft said.

Iran has a long history of arming and financially supporting its network of proxies – Shia militias across the Middle East – to further its influence in the region.

Craft stressed that Trump’s administration is going to use everything at its disposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran: “We’re going to be using every tool in our toolbox, because the Trump administration will not back down until we have this arms embargo renewed.”

Craft vowed to “win the battle” to extend the embargo and highlighted the UN report: “In light of the Secretary-General report all the nations should stand up. They should all read this report, and once you read this report, you’re going to understand how important it is that we hold Iran and this rogue regime accountable.”

After the release of the UN report and the UNSC discussion of it, Saudi Arabia urged the international community to extend the arms embargo on Iran and the Kingdom’s Vice Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman said that the report showed Tehran’s “dark vision” for the region.

Iran’s ballistic missile program

Craft responded to a question regarding whether the US believed Iran’s claims that its ballistic missile program was for “peaceful” purposes by saying: “We don’t believe that they for one second want to have a peaceful purpose. They have given us absolutely no example that they had any path towards peace with their own people.”

The Iranian regime has repeatedly over the years claimed that its missile program was for “peaceful purposes” and for defense only and refused to even negotiate curbing the program. Meanwhile, the US says its missile program is destabilizing the Middle East.

Read: Iran says it built ‘missile cities’ along Gulf coast, warns enemies of ‘nightmare’

Craft said: “This is an international peace and security situation, and everyone is at risk here. We obviously want every regime to change and to practice democracy and the rule of law, but they have shown us absolutely no indication whatsoever other than dishonesty, lies, covering up untruths everywhere, and propping up other areas of the world that is doing nothing but killing their own people.”

“Not for one second are we going to back down or exhale until we know that the entire Middle East region is going to be safe. And that means a renewed arms embargo before October 18,” she added.

Iran’s interference in neighboring countries

Craft stressed that if the arms embargo is not renewed, the repercussions will affect neighboring countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where Tehran supports Shia militias with weapons.

“If we do not have this renewed arms embargo, they will be able to transfer arms and other weapons to their proxies in Iraq, and this will only cause further bloodshed… So it’s more important than ever.. that we hold them accountable,” she said, adding that Iraq is just one example where Tehran’s reach extends.

Iran also backs Hezbollah, a Shia militia in Lebanon which has a powerful grip on the Lebanese government.

Craft said: “We have to make certain that [Yemen’s] Houthis and anyone else, Hezbollah, [and] anyone else that is engaged in Lebanon understand that the US is there to really apply the rule of law, democracy and freedom there.”

“We are not going to stop until we understand that Lebanon has formed a government that is honest and transparent. And that means calling out the Iranians and all that they're doing to aid and abet the Lebanese terrorist regime.”

Read more:

Saudi Arabia’s Khalid bin Salman: UN report shows Iran’s ‘dark vision’ for region

Saudi Arabia: International community needs ‘firm stance’ on Iran after UN report

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

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Last Update: Friday, 10 July 2020 KSA 02:29 - GMT 23:29
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