U.S. Efforts To Extend U.N. Arms Embargo Likely To Fail Despite Full Support of Gulf States; Australian Citizen Convicted of Spying Transferred; Iran Sinks Own Carrier Mock-Up In Strait of Hormuz

The United States continues to push for the U.N. Security Council to vote to extend an expiring embargo on arms sales to Iran. The U.S. has also threatened to impose a unilateral embargo regardless of what the U.N. does. Brain Hook, a special envoy for Iran, told reporters, “We have an objective to extend the arms embargo. That can be done the easy way or it can be done the hard way, but it’s going to be extended.”  The U.S. has been lobbying for an extension of the embargo, which is set to expire under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the west, and from which the U.S. withdrew. Reported by Fox News. Read more… All lobbying, however, appears doomed to failure. China has confirmed it will not vote to extend the embargo, effectively ending the U.S. effort. China Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Webin, stated Thursday that “We don’t agree with the U.S. in pushing for the extension of the arms embargo against Iran in the Security Council. All the provisions of Resolution 2231, including the relevant arrangements with regard to arms embargo, should be implemented in earnest.” The day before China’s announcement U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, had told reporters, “The Security Council’s mission is to maintain ‘international peace and security.’ The Council would make an absolute mockery of that mission if it allowed the number-one state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell weapons freely.” Reported by Fox News. Read more… Nonetheless, the U.S. got an unexpected boost from the Arab bloc. All six Gulf Arab nations—through the Gulf Cooperation Council—announced they back the U.S.-plan to extend the embargo. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic serving a ten-year prison sentence for spying has been moved from Tehran’s Evin Prison to Qarchak women’s prison. Qarchak is notoriously isolated in the desert. It is one of Iran’s harshest prisons. In a telephone call Moore-Gilbert revealed that she felt hopeless and isolated. Moore-Gilbert, a Middle East scholar, was arrested and convicted of spying on Iran, though she denies the allegations. Reported by The Guardian. Read more… Australia’s ambassador to Iran visited Moore-Gilbert and found that she “is well.” Moore-Gilbert is a lecturer in Islamic studies at Melbourne University. “Dr. Moore-Gilbert is well and has access to food, medical facilities, and books,” a statement from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “We will continue to seek regular consular access to Dr. Moore-Gilbert.” The statement also said Australia believed the best way to bring Moore-Gilbert home “is through the diplomatic path.” Reported by Fox News. Read more…

Meanwhile, Iran continues saber rattling. This time, the Islamic Republic fired a barrage of missiles at a replica of a U.S. carrier it had built in the Strait of Hormuz. Twenty percent of the world’s oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz. The recent Iranian exercise serves as a reminder that despite the coronavirus pandemic occupying both countries’ attention, tensions between the U.S. and Iran remain. Reported by The Guardian. Read more… Reported by Fox News. Read more… It may also be that Iran’s military may have overdone it—the mock-up appears to have sunk in the Strait—blocking part of the waterway. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…