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Biden admin set to allow Iran UN sanctions on ballistic missile program to expire: 'Huge victory for Tehran'

The U.N. is set to let certain sanctions expire on Iran. Critics say the sanctions to be lifted will embolden the regime, but the administration says it holds the regime accountable.

The Hamas war against Israel is slated to be given a potent shot in the arm if the U.S. and its European allies allow U.N. sanctions to be lifted on Iran’s capability to purchase and supply missiles to enemies of the U.S. and Israel, according to experts on Tehran.

This coming Wednesday is the so-called "Transition Day" when the expiration of the U.N.’s embargo against Iran’s ability to procure and sell missiles and drones goes into effect.

Richard Goldberg, who served on the National Security Council during the Trump administration as the director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction, told Fox News Digital, "The president gives a speech saying he is heartbroken about the images of the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and opposes Hamas, and a week later, he hands a gift to Hamas’ sponsor, Iran. My heart breaks to see the president lift this embargo."

Goldberg said the removal of U.N. sanctions on Iran’s missile program "will be a huge victory for Tehran that is simply serving as a reward for terrorism and proliferation around world."


Iran’s ally, Hamas, murdered 1,400 people, including Americans, on Oct. 7 in southern Israel. Fox News Digital reported on Sunday that the late U.S.-designated Iranian global terrorist Qassem Soleimani was the architect of the mass murder, according to a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report.

Iran’s regime threatened Israel as the Jewish state prepares to launch an expected ground invasion into Gaza to root out Hamas terrorists and the entity’s military apparatus.

Earlier this month, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel was asked during a press briefing if the administration was looking to extend the embargo.

"We continue to have a number of tools at our disposal to hold Iran’s dangerous development and proliferation of missile-related technologies and UAVs – to hold those things accountable," Patel said. "Obviously, UNSCR 2231 is not the only tool that is at our disposal. We have our own sanctions authorities. We have export controls. We have bilateral and multilateral engagements. We have already effectively targeted the same networks and individuals that would have been covered under a 2231 UNSCR violation, and we’ll continue to use our own sanctions authorities to hold the Iranian regime accountable."

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 was passed by the 15-member body in 2015.

Pressed if the administration was willing to let it expire, Patel said there wasn't "anything to preview on that now" while adding, "We have pretty credibly – if you look at our track record on this since the inception of this administration – have held the Iranian regime accountable for its malign and destabilizing activities, and we’ll continue to do so."

Numerous Fox News Digital press queries to the State Department and White House went unanswered regarding the U.N. sanctions.


Goldberg, who is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), noted that "it is an unforgivable policy choice at this moment. We can stop it from expiring. We could send a letter to the United Nations Security Council and trigger snapback sanctions." He termed the Biden’s policy toward Iran "appeasement."

"Washington’s silence on the lapse of U.N. missile prohibitions on Iranian missile testing and transfers is deafening. Iran’s missile proliferation radius keeps expanding, and with the lapse of U.N. restrictions this October, that will almost certainly grow to include Russia," Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert and senior fellow at FDD, told Fox News Digital.

He added, "Make no mistake, though short of snapback, Europe’s decision to retain missile and nonproliferation sanctions on Iran is not an insignificant act. It is akin to their first ever violation of the deal. That’s big."

The European members of the JCPOA, U.K., France and Germany, known as the EU3 announced last month that they had decided to keep their ballistic missile and nuclear proliferation-related sanctions on Iran in place. 

The Obama administration’s controversial 2015 nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contained provisions on weapons sanctions against Iran that were allowed to lapse. The Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 because, his administration argued, the deal did not stop Iran’s drive to weaponize a nuclear device, degrade its ballistic missile program and end its sponsorship of terrorism.

The JCPOA permitted the lifting of the U.N. ban on Iran’s ballistic missile activities. According to the United Nations Security Council sanctions package, "Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology" until Transition Day.

Taleblu recently authored a report titled "Avoiding an October Sanctions Surprise That Would Empower Tehran." According to the FDD report, the "prohibition on U.N. member states providing Iran with missile components and technology, along with restrictions on Iran’s missile exports, are popularly called the ‘missile embargo’ and will also lapse on Transition Day."


The U.S. and Europeans can invoke the snapback sanctions mechanism to restore the U.N. sanctions on Iran’s weapons procurement system. Yet Taleblu said the sanctions are set to expire "and the only way to stop it was through snapback, but that won’t happen because Europe and the U.S. are still wedded to the deal (JCPOA)."

He added, "As for context, Iran has given Russia drones not missiles [and is] likely waiting for this." And once the U.N. sanctions lapse, Iran will likely supply Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine in Ukraine, he said.

The lifting of U.N. restrictions on Iran’s missile apparatus creates a dangerous new war theater in the Middle East. Taleblu wrote, "The more confidence Tehran feels in its missile capabilities, the lower the bar for Iran’s overt use of force with these weapons. Similarly, the more Tehran believes in the deterrent power of its growing missile force, the bolder and more unconstrained it may become in its support for terrorism, assassination, and destabilization."

A considerable market demand for Iranian drones exists. Iranian regime military officials say that 22 countries seek to buy their drones. Israel believes that roughly 50 nations have an appetite for Iranian drones.


In July, the Iranian regime-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency reported that "Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani and his Bolivian counterpart Edmundo Novillo Aguilar signed the defense and security MoU." The AP reported in late July that Bolivia’s socialist government wants to obtain Iranian drone technology.

Fox News Digital reached out to Iran’s foreign ministry in Tehran and its U.N. mission in New York. The spokesperson for the United Nations General-Secretary Antonio Guterres did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital media query.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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