MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Russia said Tuesday it will develop military cooperation with Tehran after a United Nations arms embargo on Iran expires next month, despite U.S. efforts to block arms deals.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that Washington would prevent Iran from purchasing Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems as the UN arms embargo expiration approaches.
"New opportunities will emerge in our cooperation with Iran after the special regime imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 expires on Oct. 18,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency.
"The amount of this cooperation and the areas in which it will develop is a separate question,” he added.
He said any agreements with Iran would have "nothing to do with the unlawful and illegal actions of the U.S. administration, which is trying to intimidate the entire world.”
The embargo on conventional arms shipments to Iran is set to expire next month after the United States failed to win support for a new UN resolution.
The Trump administration says it is "snapping back” virtually all UN sanctions on Iran lifted under a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran negotiated by former President Barack Obama.
Trump pulled out of the deal with great fanfare in 2018, but Pompeo argues that the United States is still a "participant” in the agreement, with the right to impose sanctions for violations.
The legal argument has been rejected by almost the entire UN Security Council, with European allies of the United States saying the priority is to salvage a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear program.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to meet his Iranian counterpart Muhammad Javad Zarif in Moscow on Thursday.
The Trump administration on Monday announced a slate of measures intended to add teeth to its attempt to restore what it falsely calls as international sanctions on Iran.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order after his administration on Saturday declared it had effectively reimposed sanctions under the so-called "snapback” provision of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
According to the leading American magazine Foreign Policy, "the unilateral U.S. effort to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran appeared to be in tatters, as key UN powers redoubled their support for the pact, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres rebuffed an appeal from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reimpose multilateral sanctions.”
At a State Department news conference on Monday, Pompeo claimed that Trump’s executive order had given the administration a "new and powerful tool to enforce the UN arms embargo and hold those who seek to evade UN sanctions accountable.”
The first action under the new executive order, he said, targeted Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics as well as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who has overseen a major rise in trade between Tehran and Caracas.
The new sanctions mostly targeted Iranian individuals and entities connected to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear enrichment or ballistic missile programs. White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said the executive order "will result in severe economic sanctions for those nations, corporations and individuals who contribute to the supply, the sale or the transfer of conventional arms to the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Among the countries, an EU arms embargo against Iran is not set to expire until 2023, meaning American officials are mainly worried about Russia and China which have already expressed interest in arms trade with Iran once the embargo expires. "Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide. No matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions,” Pompeo said. Such a rhetoric "widens a diplomatic breach” that began between the EU and the US when the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, the New York Times said. On Sunday, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell repeated his stance that the United States could not impose the international sanctions because it was no longer a party to the deal that had lifted them. The standoff "underscores how some of the United States’ closest allies are fed up with the Trump administration’s unilateralism,” Foreign Policy wrote. "Frankly, there’s a degree of exhaustion with this administration in the Security Council,” Richard Gowan, the UN director at the International Crisis Group, told the magazine. "On top of three and a half years of Trump unraveling multilateral arrangements, there’s just very little good will left for the U.S. right now.” With fewer than 50 days to go until the November election, Trump has taken an increasingly hard line against Iran while touting his administration’s brokering of normalization agreements between the occupying regime of Israel and a pair of Arab states. His policies on Iran have even drawn criticism from Iran hawks. Former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted Monday that he feared Biden, should he win in November, could use the Trump administration’s insistence that the United States remains a party to the deal to more easily reenter the nuclear agreement with Iran. Others say the indiscriminate wielding of America’s economic might by Trump could have grave consequences for the United States. No president has relied so heavily on sanctions to solve intractable problems. According to CNN host and Time magazine contributing editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria, the United States currently has more than 8,000 sanctions in place against individuals, companies and countries. The reason the U.S. is gravitating toward sanctions as a preferred tool of foreign policy is because it is a seemingly cost-free way of forcing countries to change course. But Trump has failed to achieve any from his trademark "maximum pressure” foreign policy, while they do have also costs for the United States. According to Zakaria, Washington’s "promiscuous use and abuse of sanctions” could irreparably damage America’s superpower status. "The more Washington abuses its power, the greater the efforts to find some alternative to the hegemony of the dollar,” he wrote. "The Russians and Chinese have long been trying to find ways to skirt dollar control. Infuriated by the Iran sanctions, the Europeans are now doing the same.” Therefore, "the more Trump resorts to sanctions as unilateral cudgels, and the more he wields them to look tough rather than to execute an overarching strategy, the more other countries will resent the United States and push back. This is the real cost of sanctions,” Zakaria added.