Republican congressional leaders are pressuring the Trump administration to abandon its efforts to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, and instead push the international body to reimpose all economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted as part of the landmark nuclear accord.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a U.S.-sponsored measure to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in mid-October. The Trump administration has expended great capital in recent months pushing its allies to back the measure. The administration earlier this week unveiled a revamped version of the measure meant to entice support from European allies such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. But Russia and China—which both have veto power on the Security Council—are standing in the way. The two countries want to see the arms ban expire so they can increase their sale of advanced weaponry and other military equipment to Iran.
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Republican hawks in Congress are frustrated with the diplomatic battle, and are now calling on the Trump administration to invoke "snapback," a mechanism written into the original nuclear deal that allows member nations to unilaterally reapply all international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the agreement. The Trump administration maintains that it can legally invoke snapback, but has been unclear about whether it will exercise the right. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior U.S. officials said their focus is on the arms embargo resolution.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s Foreign Affairs and National Security Task Force, told the Washington Free Beacon that his coalition of conservative lawmakers wants the administration to invoke snapback immediately. With Russia and China standing in the way of the arms embargo extension, snapback is the only way to stop Iran from engaging in a weapons buying spree.
"The United States should exercise its legal right under international law to reimpose sanctions on Iran given its persistent threat to world peace," said Wilson, who also serves as the ranking member on the House’s Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism Subcommittee. "Snapping back sanctions on Iran is the only way to reinstitute the permanent U.N. arms embargo on Iran that was made temporary by the disastrous nuclear deal."
Wilson warned about capitulating to Russia and China at the U.N., saying that "Moscow and Beijing have already made it clear that they intend to sell Iran weapons after the termination of the embargo in October, continuing to fuel the terrorism and instability that has roiled the Middle East."
Congressional sources who spoke to the Free Beacon said Wilson is not alone. Many Republican lawmakers have been privately urging the administration to invoke snapback as a means to extend the arms embargo and also increase economic pressure on Tehran.
"It’s time to finally pull the plug on the harmful legacy of the Iranian nuclear deal which endangered our allies in the region," Wilson said.