Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been waiting for this moment for a long time.
The top U.S. diplomat began his term in office in May 2018 by pulling out of the JCPOA, a 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers over the Iranian nuclear program. And he is heading into Election Day with a move that could kill the deal on a global scale.
Pompeo has been hinting for months that the United States wants to restore United Nations sanctions on Iran. He formally set the process in motion last week, just in time for a biannual UN Security Council meeting on the JCPOA scheduled for June 30.
The video meeting followed a familiar pattern. The United States claimed that the JCPOA has failed to clamp down on Iran’s rogue activities. Iran and its allies accused the United States itself of being a rogue actor that tramples on international law. The European nations urged restraint on both sides, warning that any move to kill the JCPOA would be dangerous.
But it was the first time all three sides had a chance to duke it out directly.
If Pompeo was hoping to build an international consensus against Iran, the meeting was a disappointment. Many representatives at the meeting placed Iran and the United States on the same level, portraying both sides as threats to diplomacy.
Germany accused the Trump administration of violating international law, and even the United Nations’ own undersecretary-general criticized Pompeo’s decisions.
Pompeo focused his own comments on the UN arms embargo against Iran, which is set to expire in October, but could be extended if the Security Council snaps back sanctions. The United Nations confirmed earlier this month that Iranian weapons were used to attack Saudi oil facilities last year, and that someone in Iran has been illegally shipping weapons to war-torn Yemen.
The United Nations now has a chance to “stand for international peace and security, as the United Nations founders intended, or let the arms embargo on the Islamic Republic of Iran expire,” Pompeo said. “The regime doesn’t moderate when we lift sanctions or weaken accountability. In fact, it does just the opposite.”