WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, May 4th, 2020, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives called on the Trump Administration to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran, which is set to expire in October of this year. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (NY-16), Ranking Member Michael McCaul (TX-10), and Representative Stephanie Murphy (FL-07) led a group of 387 members encouraging robust diplomacy to prevent the expiration of the embargo and of U.N. travel restrictions on Iranians engaged in proliferation activities. The group of members—more than three-quarters of the House—underscored that permitting Iran to buy and sell weapons would pose a grave risk to security and stability around the world.
Representative Fitzpatrick said, “Time and time again, Iran has shown that they cannot be trusted. Their efforts to destabilize the region and the world will only increase if we do not extend the U.N. embargo. Iran must be prohibited from buying and selling weapons, and moreover, we must prevent Iran from increasing its influence in the region. I am proud to lead a bipartisan coalition on this urgent issue, and I am encouraged to see so many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle add their voice in support of this critical national security matter.”
Chairman Engel said, “The U.N. arms embargo will be the first provision of the Iran nuclear deal to expire. This letter, supported overwhelmingly by both parties in the House, represents an imperative to reauthorize this provision—not through snapback or going it alone, but through a careful diplomatic campaign. The Trump Administration has promised a better deal and it falls to the administration to solve this crisis, not make it worse. Iran continues to be a danger to the United States, our interests, and our allies. We need a realistic and practical strategy to prevent Iran from becoming a greater menace.”
Ranking Member McCaul said, “Nearly every member of the U.S. House of Representatives is in agreement: Iran must not be allowed to buy or sell weapons. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, or even just an American issue. We need to extend the U.N. arms embargo on Iran for the sake of international peace and security. I am proud the House is speaking with one voice to protect the world against Iran’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior.”
Representative Murphy said, “Preventing the regime in Tehran from buying and selling weapons is critical for U.S. national security and for the security of U.S. allies and partners in the greater Middle East. We all look forward to the time when Iran will become a responsible member of the community of nations. Until then, we must take all reasonable steps at the national and international level to curb Iranian aggression.”
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
May 4, 2020
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
We write to urge increased diplomatic action by the United States to renew the expiring United Nations arms embargo against Iran and United Nations travel restrictions on those Iranian individuals involved with dangerous proliferation activities.
U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 bans arms transfers to and from Iran, yet Iran routinely violates this resolution with impunity, particularly in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Iran’s illicit transfers of weapons directly contribute to some of the most destabilizing threats to the United States and our partners in the Middle East such as Israel and the Gulf States. Even so, the resolution serves as an important means to restrain the sale of weapons to Iran and makes a clear continued international resolve to stop Iran’s illicit weapons transfers.
The U.N. arms embargo is set to expire in October, and we are concerned that the ban’s expiration will lead to more states buying and selling weapons to and from Iran. Additionally, states concerned about Iran’s malign activities may feel they do not have sufficient legal authority to stop transfers once the U.N. embargo expires. This could have disastrous consequences for U.S. national security and our regional allies. We urge you to work with allies and like-minded partners, including through the United Nations Security Council, to extend these provisions in order to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons, while also working to increase accountability for violations of the existing embargo. We also urge you to make clear to the international community that U.S. sanctions on Iranian arms transfers remain in place and will be fully enforced.
We are also concerned about the expiration of the U.N.-imposed travel restrictions on some of Iran’s most notorious individuals who have long violated U.N. proliferation and weapons restrictions. The U.N. travel restrictions allow states to refuse transit to covered individuals, which limits their ability to train, fundraise, and plan around the globe. Restricting their movement is critical to our national security.
As we work to extend the U.N. travel restrictions, we should also take steps to ensure that they cover all of Iran’s most dangerous actors and are fully enforced. The newly named head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), General Esmail Ghanni, is not on the list of named Iranians, despite his experience training Iranian-backed militias in Afghanistan that have targeted American troops and his responsibility for IRGC-QF activities in Pakistan. Additionally, enforcement of these travel bans is key. Former IRGC-QF Commander Qassem Soleimani routinely flouted these UN travel restrictions, including visiting Russia to coordinate Russia’s deadly intervention in Syria. We urge you to lead a campaign within the Security Council to expand this list and facilitate its full enforcement.
America must continue its longstanding, bipartisan leadership in order to limit Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the world. We look forward to working with you to re-authorize these expiring U.N. restrictions, which are essential to protecting our national security and the American people.
ELIOT ENGEL Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs
MICHAEL McCAUL Ranking Member House Committee on Foreign Affairs
STEPHANIE MURPHY Member of Congress
BRIAN FITZPATRICK Member of Congress
# # #