June 29, 2020
Saudi Arabian and US officials on Monday urged the international community to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran, warning that letting the ban expire would allow Tehran to further arm its proxies and destabilise the region.
Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, and US Iran envoy Brian Hook were speaking at a joint news conference in Riyadh.
The venue displayed weapons, including drones and missiles, that Saudi authorities accuse Tehran of sending to Yemen’s Iranian-aligned Houthi movement and which they said were used in cross-border attacks on Saudi cities.
“Despite the embargo, Iran seeks to provide weapons to terrorist groups, so what will happen if the embargo is lifted? Iran will become more ferocious and aggressive,” Al-Jubeir said.
Al-Jubeir said a shipment of Iranian weapons bound for the Houthis was seized as recently as Sunday. Hook said similar shipments were intercepted in February and last November.
The conference venue displayed weapons, including drones and missiles, that Saudi authorities said were used in cross-border Houthi attacks on Saudi cities.
“We urge the international community to extend the embargo on selling arms to Iran and on Iran’s ability to sell arms to the world,” Jubeir said.
Iran denies arming groups in the Middle East, including the Houthis, and blames regional tensions on the United States and its Gulf allies.
Hook said lifting the ban would “only embolden” Tehran, drive greater instability and trigger a regional arms race. “This is not an outcome that the U.N. Security Council can accept,” he added.
Iran has warned it will respond if the embargo is extended and said such a decision would endanger the 2015 nuclear pact, under which Tehran agreed to halt its disputed uranium enrichment programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Washington withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with key restrictions imposed on its nuclear activity by the accord.
When asked about Iran’s issuance of an arrest warrant for US President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani, it was called a “propaganda stunt” by Hook.
“Our assessment is that Interpol does not intervene and issue Red Notices that are based on a political nature,” Hook said.
“This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability … It is a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously,” Hook said.