Top Diplomats From US and Iran at UN on Iran Nuclear Deal

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are scheduled to address a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday on the implementation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — the accord that the Trump administration pulled out of more than two years ago.

The long-scheduled open meeting of the U.N.'s most powerful body comes a day after Iran issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad earlier this year. Trump faces no danger of arrest and Interpol later said it would not consider Iran's request.

However, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States since Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and re-imposed crippling U.S. sanctions on Tehran.

The five other powers that signed the nuclear deal — Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany — remain committed to it, saying the agreement is key to continuing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and preventing Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

A key issue at Tuesday's virtual Security Council meeting is expected to be a provision in the resolution endorsing the nuclear deal that calls for the termination of the U.N. arms embargo against Iran in mid-October. The Trump administration is vehemently opposed to lifting the arms embargo.

In a report this month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations has determined that Iran was the source for several items in two arms shipments seized by the U.S., and for debris left by attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil installations and an international airport.

He also said some of the items seized by the U.S. in November 2019 and February 2020 “were identical or similar” to those found after cruise missiles and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2019.

The Trump administration is expected to seize on the findings to argue that Iran cannot be trusted and that the embargo must be extended.

The administration has also cited Iran's continued support to proxies in the Middle East, along with what the U.N. nuclear watchdog has found to be Iranian violations of the accord. U.S. officials have threatened to demand the re-imposition of all U.N. sanctions on Iran unless the embargo is extended.

The U.S. has circulated a draft Security Council resolution that would indefinitely extend the arms embargo and Pompeo is expected to present the administration's case Tuesday.

The administration has won only tepid support from allies, and European countries are expected to present a counter-proposal that would extend at least parts of the embargo for six months. It is not clear if either the U.S. or Russia and China would support such a proposal.

Iran has vehemently denounced the U.S. effort and said the embargo must be lifted completely as scheduled, and that any violations of the deal are due to the U.S. withdrawal from the accord and sanctions imposed on Tehran. Iran's Zarif is scheduled to address the council shortly after Pompeo speaks.

Iran's U.N. Ambassador Majid Ravanchi said last Thursday that he believes the U.S. resolution to extend the arms embargo against his country will be defeated and warned it would be “a very, very big mistake” if Washington then tries to re-impose U.N. sanctions.

Ravanchi said restoring U.N. sanctions will end the 2015 nuclear deal and release Tehran from all its commitments.

“If that happens, Iran will not be under constraint as to what course of action it should take,” he said reporters. “All options for Iran will be open.”