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Iran's Rohani Vows 'Crushing Response' If Arms Embargo Extended


Iranian President Hassan Rohani speaks during a cabinet meeting in Tehran on May 6.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has threatened a "crushing response" if the United States continues efforts to prolong a UN Security Council arms embargo on Tehran that is set to expire later this year.

A landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers provided for Tehran to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions, as well as for a UN conventional-weapons embargo due to expire in October.

But U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from the agreement signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama, calling it a bad deal, and reimposed harsh sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

Washington now says it also wants to extend the arms embargo.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed on April 29 to use all means available to extend the ban beyond October and said he was "hopeful" the UN Security Council would prolong the restriction before it expires.

However, Security Council members China and Russia, which stand to win major new arms contracts with Iran and together with France, Germany, and Britain are still part of the 2015 deal, are certain to oppose an extension of the embargo.

In a televised speech on May 6, Rohani repeated Iran's long-standing criticism of Washington's decision to exit the nuclear deal, which he called a "stupid mistake."

"If America wants to return to the deal, it should lift all the sanctions on Tehran and compensate for the reimposition of sanctions," the Iranian president said.

"Iran will give a crushing response if the arms embargo on Tehran is extended," he added.

Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments under the accord since the United States withdrew from the pact.

Washington believes Iran's nuclear program is secretly working toward military capabilities, while Tehran claims it is solely for civilian purposes.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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