US Seeks Indefinite Arms Embargo on Iran

Pompeo hopes to use nuclear deal as justification for 'snapback' sanctions

Iran is under constant and growing US sanctions, but it could always be under even more sanctions than that. This is the challenge that keeps Secretary of State Mike Pompeo going, and he sees the P5+1 nuclear deal that the US exited in 2018 as the key.

Pompeo is trying to argue that the US remains a party to the nuclear deal, despite dishonoring it repeatedly before withdrawing from it. As a “party” the US could then use it to try to force snapback sanctions on Iran in the name of the treaty.

Some Iran hawks opposed leaving the deal specifically because it would cost the US this ability to abuse the language of the pact. Pompeo seems to believe he can have things both ways, though Iranian FM Javad Zarif says he is “dreaming.”

On top of this effort, the US is also moving to try to make UN arms embargos against Iran, which expire in October, open-ended. The expiration was part of the P5+1 deal, and now the US wants these sanctions too to remain intact.

The embargo probably won’t be extended, however, as Russia is believed to be planning to try to sell conventional defensive arms to Iran once the embargo ends, and probably won’t endorse a US extension whose only real practical purpose is to stop those sales.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of