Unified Gulf Council Calls For Extension of Iran Arms Embargo

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The Gulf Cooperation Council called for the United Nations Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Iran, an effort that dovetails with U.S. efforts to persuade Russia and China not to veto a resolution the Trump administration plans to introduce.

In a letter to the Security Council sent Saturday and obtained by Bloomberg News, the GCC called on the Security Council to extend the embargo and “further impose any additional measures necessary to prevent the destabilizing proliferation of Iranian weapons, such as a targeted asset freeze and travel ban on individuals involved in the supply, sale or transfer of arms or related materiel to or from Iran.”

Iran “has continued to proliferate weapons across the region as an integral part of its expansionist regional policy and longstanding interference in the internal affairs of Arab States, including GCC member states, in clear violation of the UN Charter,” the group wrote. It was sent by GCC Secretary General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf.

The letter is a rare show of unity from the group — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — in the three years since four of the states led by the Saudis severed diplomatic and trade dies with Qatar over accusation that it supported militant groups and had meddled in their internal affairs for years. Qatar denies the claims.

Sunday’s letter is the first significant joint statement released by the group since the rift, said a person familiar with the matter.

Pompeo Says U.S. to Seek UN Vote on Iran Arms Ban

GCC members agreed to the letter after weeks of shuttle diplomacy by Brian Hook, the U.S. envoy for Iran, as the U.S. seeks to garner more outside support to extend the arms embargo, which expires in October. The U.S. is set to introduce a resolution at the Security Council as soon as Monday to extend the embargo. Russia and China have indicated they’ll oppose it, and as permanent members of the council their vetoes would sink the initiative.

“GCC unity on this issue sends a very strong message to the world, and the Security Council needs to listen to the region,” Hook said in an emailed statement.

Hook, who’s stepping down soon, argues that it’s still possible Russia and China can be brought around. If they don’t, the Security Council may be thrown into crisis, with the U.S. threatening to invoke a “snapback” provision in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to reimpose all UN sanctions against Tehran. The other members of the council oppose that idea.

Kuwait’s prime minister said in June there’d been progress in resolving the GCC dispute, though previous such attempts failed. Some critics say the Trump administration shares blame in the dispute, accusing the president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has close ties with Saudi Arabia’s crown price, of green-lighting the decision to cut ties with Qatar.

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