NEW DELHI: The U.S. has toned down a draft resolution at the UN in its bid to extend the Iran arms import-export embargo. While that could garner more support in the 15-member UN Security Council (UNSC), it won’t overcome opposition by veto-wielders Russia and China. Geopolitical expert Dr Kamran Bukhari says the move is just one of the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure tools’ to ‘maximise his vote base’ in an election cycle. On the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) unanimously endorsing the American move in a letter to the UNSC, the Director, Analytical Development, Center for Global Policy in Washington, D.C. says despite an internal split against Qatar, the GCC (which has no member on the UNSC) has to try to “make sure Iran is contained”. Reports also indicate Washington may trigger a complicated ‘snapback’ procedure that could trigger the arms embargo extension, set to expire on October 18. Analysts feel that’s an attempt to formally end the 2015 nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action-JCPOA) involving Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the United States which the U.S. unilaterally quit in 2018. The U.S. is “using its influence and leverage around the world”, Dr Bukhari says, when it “can’t unilaterally impose its policy”. The United States has asked UNSC members for comments on its draft by Wednesday evening India time. The UNSC is operating virtually so once a vote is called, members have 24 hours to submit their response. The result will be announced at a public meeting. Iran’s UN Permanent Representative Majid Takht Ravanchi reacted to Washington’s revised draft, tweeting, “Rebuffed by UNSC members, the US was forced to retreat from its draft resolution on the Iran arms embargo, and proposed another version. I am confident that the Council will, again, reject this move.”
On reports of a China-Iran 25-year $ 400 billion strategic partnership even while other leaks allege Beijing is helping Tehran’s arch ideological rival Saudi Arabia in its nuclear programme, Dr Bukhari points to “U.S. pressure on China” on multiple fronts as part of its aggressive pushback. China doesn’t need to “cross the bridge” of choosing between Saudi Arabia and Iran immediately, Dr Bukhari argues, pointing out the “mileage” and “leverage” it gets against the U.S.
Despite U.S. sanctions, India-Iran ties are one of those things “brewed slowly unlike fast food”, Dr Bukhari says, adding its “a long term thing the Iranians and the Indians are never going to give that up, regardless of who’s in power in Delhi.” The CGP director also discusses the Pakistan-Saudi row and China stepping up efforts to push the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in what both Beijing and Delhi consider their “traditional stomping grounds”.