At the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for a collective security effort in the Persian Gulf to prevent a full-scale war from breaking out in the region. According to AP News, the proposal got strong support from all Security Council members except the US, who unsurprisingly blamed the region’s instability on Iran.
Washington brought the region to the brink of a major war in January when the US killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iraq. Lavrov mentioned the assassination and said the worst-case scenario was avoided, but “the situation remains fragile and could become dangerous and unpredictable again.”
Lavrov took a swipe at the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran in his remarks. “The practice of blackmail is particularly problematic, demonizing one country in isolation,” he said. “We need to set back mutual reproach and suspicions, move away from sanctions, ultimatums and provocative actions wherever they may come from.”
US Ambassador Kelly Craft rejected the Russian proposal. “Respectfully, I think the solution is much easier: This council must simply muster the courage to hold Iran accountable to its existing international obligation,” she said.
“The United States will continue to hold Iran accountable, even if it means we must act alone,” Craft said. “What makes America special is that we are unafraid to stand up for what is right.”
China, South Africa, and Niger welcomed Russia’s call to defuse tensions in the region. France, Germany, and the UK are also in favor of confidence-building measures in the Gulf and stressed their support for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The Trump administration’s Iran policy is increasingly unpopular among Washington’s close European allies. The UK, France, and Germany have all objected to the US efforts to enforce sanctions under the authority of the 2015 nuclear deal since Washington pulled out of the agreement by reimposing sanctions on Iran in 2018.
The Russian proposal came just days after the UN arms embargo was lifted on Iran, despite US objections. The US tried to extend the embargo by bringing it to a vote at the Security Council in August, but that effort failed miserably, with most countries abstaining from voting. The Trump administration is now threatening nations with sanctions who trade weapons with Tehran.