CHICAGO: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the UN to renew its arms embargo against Iran before it expires on Oct. 18, during testimony at Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the State Department’s annual budget.
Pompeo warned that Iran remains a threat to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, Israel and the West, and pushed to continue sanctions against Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah.
The State Department’s operating budget of nearly $41 billion includes funds for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), but Pompeo made no mention of the possibility of restoring USAID funding to Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.
“We’ve rallied nations to our side through diplomacy — witness the designations of Hezbollah from European and South American countries,” Pompeo told Senate committee members on Thursday. “And we’ve bolstered our military readiness vis-a-vis Tehran.”
Pompeo said more needs to be done to confront Iran and prevent it from spreading terrorism and violence worldwide.
“The Security Council must renew the UN arms embargo against Iran before it expires on Oct. 18,” he added.
“Iran already mines ships in the Strait of Hormuz, launches missiles at Saudi oil facilities and ships arms to the Houthis. Should the Security Council fail to act, Iran will have a freer hand to sow destruction across the Middle East and indeed the world.”
Pompeo called for an indefinite renewal of the arms embargo against Iran during an appearance at the Security Council last month.
But he was rebuffed by the Russian and Chinese governments, while American allies seemed ambivalent about the idea.
Pompeo denounced Iran’s regime as “authoritarian” and as “an aggressor and not a victim.” He said of US efforts to confront Iran: “We’ve gone full bore on our maximum-pressure campaign. Since May of 2018, we’ve slashed the vital oil revenues the regime uses for terrorism and illegal nuclear activities by 90 percent.”