Pompeo threatens to finish off Iran nuclear deal over arms embargo dispute

Washington Examiner – President Trump will force all nations to renew the sanctions lifted in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if global leaders refuse to extend an expiring arms embargo on the regime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned.

“I would remind the world that the Obama administration’s officials said very clearly that the United States has the unilateral ability to snap back sanctions into place,” Pompeo told reporters Wednesday.

That legal argument irritates allied governments, given that Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear deal in 2018. Pompeo underscored that option as U.S. officials attempt to convince Western allies, as well as Russia and China, to back a United Nations Security Council resolution that would extend an arms sale ban that expires in October.

“It’s unacceptable for the Europeans to have equipment inside of Iran, move into Iran, that can threaten the people of Europe,” Pompeo said. “Belgium, Denmark are at threat because of an expiration of an arms embargo on the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”

The “snapback” authority allows the U.S. to extend the arms embargo through a legal process that Russia and China cannot veto. Yet, that maneuver would entail the final destruction of the nuclear deal over the objections of the European Union and Western European allies, who believe the deal defused a nuclear crisis.

The Trump administration’s relationship with European governments has been strained additionally by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, including Trump’s unexpected decision to ban travel from the European Union in March, which the EU soon reciprocated. European officials may continue to ban travel from the U.S., even as they reopen to other regions, in an implicit critique of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus.

“We have to make sure that we have all of the elements in place to reopen travel between the EU and the United States,” Pompeo said. “We’re working on finding the right way to do it, the right timing to do it the right tactics to have in place. We certainly don’t want to reopen [in a way] that jeopardizes the United States from people traveling here. And we certainly don’t want to cause problems anyplace else.”

He expressed hope for a cooperative spirit on the arms embargo question. “I’m very hopeful that the whole world, when we come to the point when this decision must be made, that they will come to the same understanding that the United States has — that this is dangerous for the world for this to have expired,” Pompeo said.