Signed in 2015, the deal freed up the Iranian economy by lifting sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to halt its nuclear program. The deal was President Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement, and was backed by some of America’s closest allies, Britain, France and Germany, as well as its strongest foes, China and Russia.
President Trump came into office vowing to dismantle the deal, insisting he could get a better one. But when he finally withdrew the United States from the accord in 2018, it touched off a diplomatic conflagration that has at times escalated toward war.
Since then, Iran has exceeded nuclear enrichment limits set by the accord and launched covert attacks on American military targets, while the United States has assassinated Iranian military leaders and proxies, including Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s revolutionary guards.
The arms embargo was designed to prevent Iran from buying and selling weapons, including aircraft and tanks. It was due to expire in October, at which point Iran would legally be able to begin replenishing its arms stockpiles, something the Trump administration has said it would not permit.
“We can’t allow the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell weapons,” Mr. Pompeo, the administration’s leading voice on Iran, told reporters in Vienna before Friday’s vote. “I mean, that’s just nuts.”
But Mr. Pompeo’s was a lonely voice in support of the measure, which had been put forth by the United States.
Of the 15 countries on the Security Council, only one, the Dominican Republic, joined the United States in supporting the proposal. Major U.S. allies — Britain, France and Germany — all abstained from the vote, making a promised veto by Russia and China unnecessary. Of the 15 countries on the Security Council, Russian and China voted against the proposal and 11 countries abstained.