Russia proposes 'urgent' summit to avoid further 'confrontation'
President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that the United States had suffered a humiliating defeat in its bid to get a UN arms embargo on Iran extended indefinitely.
"I don’t remember the United States preparing a resolution for months to strike a blow at the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it garners only one vote!," Rouhani said in a televised speech.
"But the great success was that the United States was defeated in this conspiracy with humiliation."
The UN Security Council on Friday resoundingly defeated the US resolution, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only yes votes. China strongly opposed the resolution, but didn’t need to use their vetoes.
The embargo on conventional arms sales to Iran is due to expire on October 18 under the terms of a resolution that blessed the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Iran’s Foreign Ministry also on Saturday hailed the UN Security Council vote, saying the US has "never been so isolated".
"In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated," Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi tweeted.
"Despite all the trips, pressure and the hawking, the United States could only mobilize a small country (to vote) with them," he added, in reference to failed efforts by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to rally support for a US resolution.
"Last night, Iran's active #diplomacy, along with the legal force of (the nuclear deal), defeated the United States again at the Security Council," Mousavi tweeted.
The US text effectively called for an indefinite extension of the embargo on Iran, which diplomats said would threaten the nuclear agreement.
Iran says it has the right to self-defense and that a continuation of the ban would mean an end to the nuclear deal.
The United States has threatened to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, known as snapback, even though US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the accord in 2018. Diplomats have said the United States would do this as early as next week, but would face a tough, messy battle.
Experts have said such a move would threaten to plunge the council into one of its worst-ever diplomatic crises and put the fragile nuclear deal further at risk.
Under the deal, negotiated by then US president Barack Obama, Iran committed to curtailing its nuclear activities for sanctions relief and other benefits. Since Trump pulled out and imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran under a campaign of "maximum pressure," Tehran has taken small steps away from compliance with the nuclear accord in retaliation for the US withdrawal as it presses for sanctions relief.
China: Bullying will fail
China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said in a statement after the vote that the result "once again shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail."
Zhang reiterated the Chinese contention that since the US is no longer party to the 2015 agreement, it is “ineligible to demand the Security Council invoke a snapback.” He said the overwhelming majority of council members “believe the US attempt has no legal basis.”
“Should the US insist regardless of international opinion, it is doomed to fail like today,” Zhang said.
Germany’s Deputy UN Ambassador, Gunter Sautter, said after the vote that his country remains committed to the nuclear deal.
He said Germany has been engaging with council members and is ready to continue discussions “in order to find a pragmatic way forward”, that is acceptable to all council members.
‘No to unilateralism’
Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi warned the United States against trying to trigger a return of sanctions.
"Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited. And the United States and any entity which may assist it or acquiesce in its illegal behavior will bear the full responsibility," he said in a statement.
Takht-Ravanchi said the US is seeking to use the arms embargo “as a pretext of killing the JCPOA forever through the snapback mechanism.”
He also took to Twitter to say the UNSC vote against the US proposal has a clear “message: No to UNILATERALISM.”
“The result of the vote in #UNSC on arms embargo against Iran shows – once more – the US' isolation,” he tweeted.
“US must learn from this debacle. Its attempt to “snapback" sanctions is illegal, and was rejected by int'l community, as was evident today.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed a video summit with the United States and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, China, Germany and Iran – to try to avoid further "confrontation and escalation of the situation in the Security Council."
"The issue is urgent," Putin said in a statement, adding that the alternative was "only further escalation of tensions, increasing risk of conflict – such a scenario must be avoided."
“If the leaders are fundamentally ready for a conversation, we propose to promptly coordinate the agenda,” Putin said.
Putin said Russia remained fully committed to the nuclear deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed France’s “availability in principle” to Putin’s proposal. “We have in the past deployed initiatives in the same spirit,” it said.
Asked if he would take part, Trump told reporters, "I hear there's something, but I haven't been told of it yet."
Trump, who has walked away from a series of international agreements, has dubbed the JCPOA "the worst deal ever."
The United States has argued that it can trigger a sanctions snapback because a UN Security Council resolution enshrining the nuclear deal named Washington as a participant. But the remaining parties to the deal are opposed to the move.
Diplomats have said several countries would argue that the United States legally could not activate a return of sanctions and therefore simply would not reimpose the measures on Iran themselves.
Reuters, AFP and AP contributed to this story.