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Why would Iran issue an arrest warrant for Trump?

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On June 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's address to the UN Security Council calling for an arms embargo on Iran to be extended was expected to dominate the international news agenda. However, Iran's judiciary stole the morning's headlines by issuing an arrest warrant for Donald Trump the day before.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday that Trump, along with more than 30 others accused of involvement in the January 3 drone attack that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, face "murder and terrorism charges". The prosecutor added that Tehran asked Interpol for help in detaining the US president.

The same day, the US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, denounced the warrant as a "propaganda stunt" at a press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. "Our assessment is that Interpol does not intervene and issue Red Notices that are based on a political nature," Hook said alongside the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs. Interpol soon issued a statement confirming that it would not be helping Iran to impose the warrant.

The timing of the arrest warrant caused many to believe that it was merely a tactic to divert attention from the US call for the extension of the arms embargo. Hook had previously claimed that lifting the arms embargo on Iran would turn Tehran "into the arms dealer of choice for rogue regimes and terrorist organisations", dismissing Iran's threats to retaliate as "mafia tactics".

Under the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, the arms embargo and the international travel ban on prominent members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are due to expire in October. Having withdrawn from the JCPOA in May 2018, the US is no longer in a position to change the JCPOA's rules. Yet this has not stopped Washington from pressuring other members of the JCPOA to extend the embargo.

Although it is doubtful........

© Al Jazeera