United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned against ending an arms embargo on Iran’s regime, likening every day until the deal’s October 2020 expiration as a “#CountdownToTerror.”

The push to extend the ban on weapons sales to Tehran comes amid increasing efforts by Washington to restrict the Iranian regime’s oil exports, CNN reported. Since the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 to abandon the Iran nuclear deal, Washington has attempted to use what it calls “maximum pressure” to change the regime’s behavior and limit its nuclear ambitions.

“Time is drawing short to continue this activity of restricting Iran’s capacity to foment its terror regime. 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 this from happening,” Secretary Pompeo said Tuesday, during an address at the United Nations.

Also on Tuesday, the State Department released what Secretary Pompeo termed a “#CountdownToTerror clock” tracking the time until the arms embargo and a travel ban on Qassem Soleimani expire next year. Soleimani commands the Iranian regime’s Quds Force, which is responsible for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ overseas activities. The U.S. State Department designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019.

The arms embargo covers all weapons sales and “related material” to Iran’s regime. It was put in place by the UN and is set to be lifted five years after the adoption of the nuclear deal.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Secretary Pompeo warned the international community against helping ships that are believed to be carrying illicit crude oil from Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

Secretary Pompeo’s comments followed reports that an Iranian tanker called the Bonita Queen was headed to Syria to deliver crude oil.

“We’ve made clear anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock, is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States of America. So if that ship again heads to Syria, we’ll take every action we can consistent with those sanctions to prevent them,” Secretary Pompeo said.

A source at the company Tanker Tracker, which tracks top oil exports based on satellite technology, said that the Bonita Queen was sailing toward Syria carrying about 600,000 barrels of oil. The source said Syria illegally receives about 3 million barrels of crude oil a month shipped from abroad.

The Bonita Queen does not fly the Iranian flag, but it is managed by the same company as a tanker now called the Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as the Grace 1.

The Adrian Darya 1 was impounded last month by the UK in Gibraltar on suspicion that it was attempting to carry oil to Syria, in breach of European Union sanctions. The ship was released Sunday, shortly after the United States issued a warrant for its seizure Friday in what appeared to be a last-ditch attempt to stop the tanker.

Secretary Pompeo also said in a television interview Tuesday that he believed the administration was finding success with the intensified sanctions against Iran’s regime.

“We’ve put in place a set of sanctions that have denied the Iranian regime wealth,” Pompeo said in the interview, on “CBS This Morning.”

In the administration’s view, he said, “that is working.”

“Failing to confront the Iranian regime’s malign activities will only grow the regime’s multicontinental body count,” Secretary Pompeo told reporters outside the Security Council.

In prepared remarks before the council, he accused the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, of having “gone all-in on a campaign of extortion diplomacy” to frustrate the administration’s intention to bring all Iranian oil purchases to zero.

Among the examples he cited were the Iranian seizures of foreign-flagged oil tankers traversing the Strait of Hormuz last month.

Source » ncr-iran