U.S. pushes U.N. to ban Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit in New York on September 25, 2018. / AFP photo / Mandel Ngan

(by Michelle Nichols, Reuters) UNITED NATIONS — The United States will push the U.N. Security Council to toughen its stance to prevent Iran from working on ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and carrying out test launches, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

Pompeo also told the Security Council an arms embargo on Iran should not be lifted in 2020 and called on the council to establish “inspection and interdiction measures, in ports and on the high seas, to thwart Iran’s continuing efforts to circumvent arms restrictions.”

“Iran is harboring al Qaeda, supporting Taliban militants in Afghanistan, arming terrorists in Lebanon, facilitating illicit trade in Somali charcoal benefiting al-Shabaab, and training and equipping Shia militias in Iraq,” Pompeo said during the meeting on the implementation of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Russia and China – which are council veto powers along with the United States, France and Britain – are unlikely to support the measures proposed by Pompeo. In February Russia vetoed an attempt by the West to have the Security Council call out Tehran in a resolution on Yemen. …

A 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Some states argue that the language does not make it obligatory.

The United States wants the council to toughen that measure, Pompeo said, to reflect language in a 2010 resolution that left no room for interpretation by banning Iran from “activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

“This Security Council has a responsibility to protect citizens of the Middle East, Americans traveling through the Middle East, Europeans who are now at risk from Iranian missiles,” Pompeo told reporters after the meeting.

The United States, Britain and France have accused Tehran of flouting the current U.N. restrictions on Tehran’s missile program by carrying out ballistic missile launches. Iran says the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

Tehran’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib accused Washington of an “addiction to sanctions and warmongering,” saying Iran was in compliance with its commitments under a 2015 international nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from in May. …

Most U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted [by President Obama and other countries] in January 2016 [when Obama and other countries made a controversial nuclear deal with Iran that the majority of Americans objected to]. But Iran is still subject to a U.N. arms embargo and other restrictions.

The U.N. sanctions and restrictions on Iran are contained in the 2015 resolution, which also enshrines the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the deal [which the Trump administration has pulled the U.S. out of, citing Iran’s aggressive and untrustworthy behavior].

Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington. From Reuters .com. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Thomson Reuters.


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. a) What is the purpose of the UN Security Council?
b) What two additional items on Iran did Secretary Pompeo tell the UN Security Council?
c) What belligerent activities is Iran involved in, described by Secretary Pompeo?

3. Iran was secretly working on nuclear weapons for 20 years before the project was discovered in 2002. Iran says its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs. The world knows the Iranian regime is lying.
a) What did a 2015 UN resolution call on Iran to do?
b) What does the US want the UN Security Council to do about the supposed vague language in the resolution?
c) How did Secretary Pompeo explain this assertion?

4. Read the “Background” below the questions on the UN Security Council and on the UN’s nuclear Non-proliferation treaty. How are Russia and China able to prevent the U.S., UK and France from implementing stronger sanctions on Iran and clarifying the 2015 UN resolution on Iran?

5. a) What have the US, Britain and France accused Iran of doing?
b) Iran “says” the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons. Why can’t they be believed?

6. The Trump administration has taken a strong stand against Iran’s nuclear program. Despite being one of 194 UN member countries, the U.S. funds 22% of the UN budget. Do you think the Trump administration will be successful in getting the UN to comply with taking a firm stand against Iran? Explain your answer.



  • According to WorldAtlas .com, there are 194 independent countries in the world today.
  • 192 countries are UN members. The exceptions are Taiwan (in 1971, the UN ousted Taiwan and replaced it with the People’s Republic of China) and Vatican City. Kosovo is not yet a member (it is not recognized as an independent country by all).
  • Each country gets one vote in the UN General Assembly.
  • The U.S. pays at least 22% of the overall yearly budget of the UN.

ON THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL: (read more at the website un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_background.html)

  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action. Its powers are exercised through United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
  • There are 15 members of the Security Council, consisting of five veto-wielding permanent members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States) and ten elected members with two-year terms [these are not eligible for immediate re-election].
  • The ten elected members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms starting on January 1st, with five replaced each year. The members are chosen by regional groups and confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly. The African bloc chooses three members; the Latin America and the Caribbean, Asian, and Western European and Others blocs choose two members each; and the Eastern European bloc chooses one member. Also, one of these members is an “Arab country,” alternately from the Asian or African bloc.
  • Security Council members must always be present at UN headquarters in New York so that the Security Council can meet at any time. This requirement of the United Nations Charter was adopted to address a weakness of the League of Nations since that organization was often unable to respond quickly to a crisis.
  • Each Council member has one vote.
  • Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members.
  • Decisions on substantive matters (including imposing sanctions on a country) require nine votes, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members.
  • Under the UN Charter, all 191 Member States (countries) of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.  While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to Governments, the Council alone has the power to make decisions which Member States are obligated under the Charter to carry out.

The UN’s Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):

  • Under the United Nations Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons – except for the 5 that had nuclear weapons prior to the treaty: the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom.
  • The aim of the UN’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • There are currently 189 countries party to the treaty, five of which have nuclear weapons:
    the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China (these are the five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council).
  • Only four recognized sovereign states are not parties to the NPT treaty: India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. India, Pakistan and North Korea have openly tested and are presumed to possess nuclear weapons. Israel has had a policy of nontransparancy regarding its own nuclear weapons program. North Korea acceded to the treaty, violated it, and later withdrew.
  • Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program was discovered in 2002. Iran continues to claim that its program is for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment which is used to make nuclear bombs. [NOTE ON URANIUM ENRICHMENT: Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency attempts to monitor and control enriched uranium supplies and processes in its efforts to ensure nuclear power generation safety and curb nuclear weapons proliferation (buildup).]
  • Numerous economic sanctions imposed on Iran were beginning to take a toll on the country’s economy, but in July 2015 President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement with Iran in which Iranian leaders said they would put a 10 year hold on their nuclear program in exchange for the dropping of sanctions against them.
  • The Iranian government has called for the destruction of Israel on numerous occasions. It is believed that once obtained, the Iranian government would use nuclear weapons against Israel.


A brief clip from the UN on Dec. 1:  Secretary Pompeo explains Iran’s nuclear testing program, noting that it has grown since the Iran nuke deal:  (to watch the full statement, see the State Department’s YouTube page)

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