U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged greater international cooperation to stop Iran’s objectionable behavior in the region and beyond while speaking at the United Nations Tuesday.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies continue to foment terror and unrest in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, with devastating humanitarian consequences,” Pompeo told a Security Council meeting on Middle East security challenges.
He underscored Iran’s recent resumption of uranium enrichment to levels exceeding internationally agreed to caps; its seizure of several tankers passing through the Strait of Hormuz; and the test-firing of a ballistic missile.
“Failing to confront [the] Iranian regime’s malign activities will only grow the regime’s multicontinental body count spanning the last 40 years,” Pompeo told reporters after the session.
He also renewed his call for the Security Council to prevent an international arms embargo and a travel ban from expiring next year under a provision of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the United States as well as Germany.
U.S.-Iranian tensions have steadily risen since the Trump administration pulled out of the Obama-era agreement last year.
“The international community will have plenty of time to see how long it has until Iran is unshackled to create new turmoil and figure out what it must do to prevent that from happening,” Pompeo said.
Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, blamed the U.S. military presence in the region, its withdrawal from the nuclear deal and its “Iranophobic statements” for stoking regional tensions.
“While we are not seeking confrontation, we cannot and will not remain indifferent to the violation of our sovereignty,” Ravanchi told the council. “Therefore, in order to secure our borders and interests, we will vigorously exercise our inherent right to self-defense.”
The U.S. has blamed Iran for several mine attacks in recent months on ships in the Strait of Hormuz, as well as the seizure of some tankers. Washington has launched an effort to protect international shipping in the strait, an important oil tanker transit point.
“The interference of foreign forces in this strategic waterway, under whatever pretext, is destabilizing and thus unacceptable,” the Iranian envoy said. “Any attempt at artificial coalition building for securing navigation in this area will fail.”