Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday warned that the Iranian regime will become an arms dealer to despots in places such as Syria and Venezuela if a 13-year-old arms embargo is allowed to expire -- and that more people will die in the Middle East as Tehran gets its hands on weapons.
"If Iran is allowed to buy weapons from the likes of China and Russia, more civilians in the Middle East will die at the hands of the regime and its proxies -- it’s that straight forward," Pompeo said at during a news conference.
The arms embargo imposed on Tehran more than a decade ago is due to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, in October.
But the U.S. has warned that, given the rogue behavior of the Iranian regime and its funding of terror proxies such as Hezbollah, that the consequences will be disastrous for the region and elsewhere -- and that Venezuelan despot Nicolas Maduro and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad would be the beneficiaries.
“Tehran will become an arms dealer for the [Nicolás] Maduros and [Bashar] Assads of the world, sworn enemies of Israel like Hamas and Hezbollah will be better armed, European nations will be put at risk,” Pompeo said.
The U.S. left the Iran deal in 2018 after long-standing opposition to the Obama-era deal by President Trump, but has argued it still has the ability to use a clause in the deal that allows an individual nation to "snap back" sanctions on Iran.
Pompeo has warned that if the U.N. does not vote to extend the embargo, then the U.S. will seek to “snap back” the sanctions as it claims it is authorized to do as a still-participating member of U.N. Resolution 2231, which enshrined the Iran deal.
The State Department last week laid out Tehran’s funding of terrorism at home and abroad in 2019, saying it plots and commits terror attacks “on a global scale.”
“Through the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Forces], Iran continued its support to several U.S.-designated terrorist groups, providing funding, training, weapons, and equipment. Among the groups receiving support from Iran are Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) in Iraq, and al-Ashtar Brigades in Bahrain,” the report says. “Iran also provided weapons and support to Shia militant groups in Iraq, to the Houthis in Yemen, and to the Taliban in Afghanistan."
On Wednesday, Pompeo spoke to the U.N. Security Council directly, urging them to support extending the embargo indefinitely.
“This chamber has a choice: Stand for international peace and security, as the United Nations’ [UN's] founders intended, or let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire, betraying the UN’s mission and its finest ideals, which we have all pledged to uphold,” Pompeo said during a video conference.
Fox News' Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.