US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the UN Security Council on Tuesday to extend an arms embargo on Iran before it expires in October, prompting Russia to slam Washington's policy toward Tehran as like "putting a knee" to the country's neck.
The US has circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council that would indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Tehran, but council veto-powers Russia and China have already signalled their opposition to the move.
"Don't just take it from the US, listen to countries in the region. From Israel to the Gulf, countries in the Middle East – who are most exposed to Iran's predations – are speaking with one voice: extend the arms embargo," Pompeo told a virtual Security Council meeting.
US President Donald Trump's administration has long argued that the arms embargo on Iran should not be lifted. The arms embargo is set to end in mid-October under Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia and the administration of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
Since Trump took office in 2017, his administration has quit the nuclear deal and steadily ramped up sanctions on Iran in what Washington describes as a maximum-pressure approach.
Addressing the council, Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described the policy as "a maximum suffocation policy".
"The task is to achieve regime change or create a situation where Iran literally wouldn't be able to breath. This is like putting a knee to one's neck," he said in a veiled reference to the death of a Black man in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck.
The death of George Floyd sparked protests across the United States and around the world.