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6 Arab Countries Back UN Iran Embargo  08/09 10:20


   DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A six-nation bloc of Gulf Arab nations 
torn apart by internal strife endorsed on Sunday an extension of a United 
Nations arms embargo on Iran, just two months before it is set to expire.

   The Gulf Cooperation Council said it sent a letter to the U.N. Security 
Council backing an extension of an arms embargo that's kept Iran from 
purchasing foreign-made weapons like fighter jets, tanks and warships.

   The GCC --- comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the 
United Arab Emirates --- alleged Iran had "not ceased or desisted from armed 
interventions in neighboring countries, directly and through organizations and 
movements armed and trained by Iran."

   A Saudi-led coalition continues to battle Yemen's Houthi rebels, whom the 
U.N., the U.S. and armament experts have accused of receiving arms from Iran. 
Tehran denies arming the Houthis, even as Iranian armaments and components have 
repeatedly turned up in Yemen.

   "As such, it is inappropriate to lift the restrictions on conventional 
weapons' movement to and from Iran until it abandons its destabilizing 
activities in the region and ceases to provide weapons to terrorist and 
sectarian organizations," the GCC said.

   Iran's mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for 
comment on the GCC statement.

   The U.N. banned Iran from buying major foreign weapon systems in 2010 amid 
tensions over its nuclear program. That blocked Iran from replacing its aging 
equipment, much of which had been purchased by the shah before the 1979 Islamic 
Revolution. An earlier embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.

   Iran's 2015 nuclear deal saw the U.N. agree to sunset the arms embargo this 
October. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal in 
2018, part of a maximum pressure campaign that's hurt Iran's already-ailing 
economy and led to a series of escalating incidents in the Mideast.

   That the GCC offered a unified statement on Iran comes as it remains torn by 
the ongoing Qatar crisis, which saw Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the 
Emirates cut diplomatic ties and launch a boycott of the nation beginning in 
2017. Kuwait has sought to mediate the crisis, though its 91-year-old emir now 
is hospitalized in the U.S. suffering from an undisclosed ailment.

   Amid the crisis, Qatar has had warmer ties with Iran and used its airspace 
while sharing a vast offshore oil and gas field with Tehran. The small nation 
is home to the massive Al-Udeid Air Base, home to the forward headquarters of 
the U.S. military's Central Command. Oman, which saw its long-serving sultan 
die earlier this year, long has had close ties to Iran and has served as an 
interlocutor between Tehran and the West.

   Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates long have viewed Iran far more 
suspiciously, accusing it of stirring up dissent among Shiite populations in 
the region.

   The unified GCC statement comes after recent visits by outgoing U.S. special 
representative for Iran Brian Hook amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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