National Security

U.S. Livid With European Allies After Failed Vote on Iran Arms Embargo

Trump admin vents anger after Euros abandon U.S. in fight against Tehran at U.N.

UN headquarters
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The Trump administration expressed outrage with its European allies after they failed to support a U.S. resolution at the United Nations that would have indefinitely extended an arms embargo on Iran, current and former senior U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon.

The United States suffered a stinging defeat at the U.N. Security Council on Friday when not a single European nation lent support to a measure that would have renewed a long-standing arms ban on Iran, which is scheduled to expire in mid-October. While Russia and China vowed to veto the measure, the United States hoped to secure the support of traditional allies such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Only the Dominican Republic supported the U.S. resolution at the Security Council, highlighting lingering anger over the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

Senior U.S. officials said they are livid with European leaders following the failed vote, particularly with U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson, whom administration officials see as abandoning President Donald Trump ahead of the contested 2020 presidential election. The administration is now considering next steps, which are likely to include a final push to reimpose, or snapback, all international economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal. The United States says it has legal authority to invoke the snapback mechanism, but is likely to face an uphill battle given Europe’s refusal to stand with America in extending the arms ban. The snapback fight will likely play out in the leadup to the November elections.

After months of diplomatic wrangling and cautious public statements, the Trump administration is now venting its anger at European nations.

"The administration is profoundly disappointed in the E3—but especially Boris Johnson," a senior administration official told the Free Beacon, speaking only on background about the ongoing diplomatic skirmish. "All of these countries have expressed privately that Iran does not need these weapons, but they abstained in order to preserve remnants of a bad deal that even Iran isn’t honoring."

The arms embargo extension had unlikely bipartisan support in Congress, where several hundred lawmakers from both parties issued various statements and letters backing the Trump administration’s longshot diplomatic move. If the embargo lifts in October, nations such as Russia and China will be legally permitted to sell Iran billions of dollars' worth of advanced weaponry and military hardware.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.N. Security Council’s failure to extend the arms ban is inexcusable. "We will continue to work to ensure that the theocratic terror regime does not have the freedom to purchase and sell weapons that threaten the heart of Europe, the Middle East, and beyond," Pompeo said in a statement.

Richard Goldberg, a former member of the White House’s National Security Council who worked on Iran issues, told the Free Beacon the U.K.’s Johnson looks "like an appeaser of China, Russia, and Iran and also the polar opposite of a Brexiteer, going along with whatever Berlin and Paris tell him to do."

If Trump defeats Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden in November, the close U.S.-U.K. alliance could be in jeopardy.

It is "hard to imagine Johnson’s Brexit base wants him to help Russia arm Iran and side with the [European Union] against President Trump, potentially jeopardizing the U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement," Goldberg said, echoing the feelings of current Trump administration officials who spoke to the Free Beacon about the failed vote.

Iran hawks in Congress also are laying the blame on Europe and now throwing their support behind efforts to snapback all sanctions on Iran.

"The fecklessness of our European allies has left the United States with one option, and one option only, to prevent an expiration of the arms embargo," Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said in a Monday morning statement. "It's time for the United States to finally and irreversibly end what remains of the disastrous deal and the benefits that Iran gets from it by invoking the snapback mechanism described in the deal's United Nations resolution."