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Iran slams US efforts to extend arms embargo as 'illegitimate'

Tehran says Washington is not a member of the Iran nuclear deal, which it warned 'may die forever' if embargo is extended
Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, said Tehran was 'not seeking to exit the 2015 nuclear deal' (AFP/File photo)

Iran has slammed efforts by the United States to extend a United Nations arms embargo against Tehran, calling the moves "illegitimate".

Abbas Mousavi, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, told reporters on Monday that the Islamic Republic was "not seeking to exit the 2015 nuclear deal with six powers", a landmark agreement that saw Tehran halt its nuclear work in exchange for sanctions relief.

The US has stepped up efforts in recent weeks to try and extend a ban on the sale of conventional weapons to Iran, which is set to be progressively lifted from October.

The lifting of the ban is part of a 2015 United Nations Security Council resolution that blessed the Iran nuclear accord reached between Tehran and world powers.

Since the US unilaterally withdrew from the accord in May 2018, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran has steadily been reducing its compliance with restrictions on its production of enriched uranium and has substantially boosted its stockpiles.

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Doing so prompted Britain, France, and Germany to formally accuse it in mid-January of violating the terms and activating a dispute mechanism in the deal.

Since Iran is admittedly not complying with several elements of the nuclear deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Trump administration believes the embargo should not be lifted.

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was "hopeful" the UN Security Council would extend the arms embargo before it expires in October.

According to Pompeo, Washington would use a legal argument based on an interpretation of Resolution 2231 that it remains a "participant" in the nuclear deal despite renouncing it, and can extend the arms embargo on Tehran or see more stringent sanctions reimposed.

"The United States is not a member of the nuclear deal anymore," Mousavi said. "America's move is illegitimate and our reaction will be proportionate."

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, tweeted on Sunday that the nuclear deal "will die forever" if the arms embargo is extended.