Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday clashed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., over a Trump administration plan to block weapon sales to Iran by arguing that the U.S. is still part of the Iran nuclear deal because it remains part of a U.N. resolution that enshrined the agreement.
The spat came after a New York Times report that the U.S. is planning a strategy at the U.N. to extend an arms embargo on Tehran due to expire in October, by claiming it legally remains a “participant state” in the accord -- in order to invoke a “snapback” of U.N. sanctions.
A U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that Secretary Pompeo is preparing a legal argument claiming the U.S. is still a participant -- giving the U.S. standing at the U.N. Security Council to push to extend the arms embargo on Iran and restore sanctions.
“U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 is pretty clear,” Pompeo told "Fox News @ Night," referring to the U.N. resolution that codified the Iran deal. “That's pretty clear about what a participant is. It's separate from the JCPoA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran deal]. We are one of the participants and the participants have the right to invoke snapback in a way that will prevent this expiration of the arms sales.”
The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear accord itself in 2018, after President Trump had campaigned to do so in 2016. Since then, the U.S. has launched a “maximum pressure” campaign involving multiple waves of sanctions against the Iranian regime to curb its terrorist activity against U.S. interests and in the region.
But Warren -- who had argued against the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA -- said Pompeo’s reasoning made “no sense.”
“The international prohibition on weapons going to/from Iran ends in October. To extend this arms embargo, the Trump admin is suddenly arguing that the US is a party to the same Iran Deal it abandoned. That makes no sense. Make up your mind, @SecPompeo,” she tweeted Tuesday.
Pompeo responded Thursday by telling Warren to “review the law again -- our rights under UNSCR [U.N. Security Council Resolution] 2231 are separate from the JCPOA.”
“But I’ll put you down for Chinese arms sales to Iran on October 18. Which weapons is it okay with you if they send? A couple of divisions of VT-4 tanks good?” he added.
That, in turn, drew a response from Warren.
“Actually, paragraph 10 of UNSCR 2231 encourages the US to resolve disputes *through the Iran nuclear deal* -- the same one you withdrew from, limiting our options and making us less safe. Nice try, @SecPompeo.”
“But can I put you down for reentering the #IranDeal?” she added.
The U.S. has kept up its tough stance against the Iranian regime even as the coronavirus crisis has hit the country.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that the Trump administration is planning on blocking a $5 billion aid request to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) amid concerns that the anti-American regime still has billion-dollar accounts available to it.
Senior officials told The Journal that the loan would allow Tehran to divert the money to its economy -- which has been stunted by sanctions imposed as part of the U.S. maximum pressure campaign -- or to finance extremist militant groups in the Middle East.
It’s a stance that has seen Democrats object, but some Iranian dissidents have welcomed the potential bar of any IMF aid, saying it would only serve to fund a “machinery of suppression” in Iran.
Fox News' Rich Edson contributed to this report.