The United States Thursday officially demanded a reimposition of all UN sanctions on Iran as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally submitted a complaint to the UN secretary-general, despite opposition from Europe, China and Russia.
“Our message is very, very simple: the United States will never allow the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism to freely buy and sell planes, tanks, missiles, and other kinds of conventional weapons. These UN sanctions will continue the arms embargo,” Pompeo told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
The prior administration left no doubt that the U.S. has the ability to snap back sanctions on Iran. That's what we intend to do. As President @realDonaldTrump said, we will not continue down a path whose predictable end is more violence, terror, and a nuclear armed Iran. pic.twitter.com/0rrOt8qoO1— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 20, 2020
Pompeo said he was confident that the “sanctions would come back into effect in 30 days.”
The so-called snapback mechanism aims to restore all international sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran in exchange for it agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran and Russia criticized the US move, with Tehran’s foreign minister threatening consequences if it goes through and Russia considering Washington’s move “non-existent.”
Pompeo added that the US reserved the right to move ahead legally because the JCPOA was “never ratified” by the Senate or the legislatures of other nations. He said it was a political commitment that Iran did not live up to.
The US diplomat said that the JCPOA was “far ... and separate” from the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which he said allowed for the snapback mechanism.
Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s UN ambassador, said Thursday’s move by the US was “null and void.”
Speaking after Pompeo, Ravanchi accused the US of “legal and political bullying."
China has also expressed stiff opposition to any extension of the Iran arms embargo. A vote at the Security Council last week on a US resolution to extend the embargo was rejected by a strong majority, with only the Dominican Republic voted for the extension alongside the US.
“We will not take it as snapback,” Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters on Thursday before Pompeo's visit.
“He’s not triggering a snapback. Snapback can be triggered by a country that is a participant of the JCPOA, which the US is not,” he said, ahead of Pompeo’s announcement and the Iran nuclear deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On #Iran 🇮🇷— Lenka White (@white_lenka) August 20, 2020
Amb. of #Russia 🇷🇺 🇺🇳 spoke on the #US invoking #snapback provision in the #UNSC:
“Which snapback? Where is snapback? #Pompeo is not triggering a snapback. Snapback can be triggered by a country that is a participant of the #JCPOA... We consider it as nonexistent.” pic.twitter.com/849Jj9vkzT
The US pulled out of the deal in 2018 under President Donald Trump was elected.
Pompeo singled out and praised the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations for urging a renewal of the Iran arms embargo. The six-member GCC had asked the UN to extend an international arms embargo on Iran in a letter sent earlier this month.
“In stark contrast [to European allies], the Gulf Cooperation Council nations deserve praise for showing courage and unity in warning about the danger from Iran,” Pompeo said.
European allies sided with the ‘ayatollahs’
Meanwhile, Britain, France and Germany were accused by Pompeo of choosing to “side with the ayatollahs.”
The three European nations released a statement Thursday saying the US did not have a right to snapback sanctions.
A Security Council resolution ratifying the accord, which was negotiated by former president Barack Obama, says participating states can unilaterally reinstall sanctions if Iran has failed to significantly comply with the accord.
The snapback procedure is supposed to lead to the re-establishment of sanctions after 30 days, without the possibility of any members, namely Russia and China, wielding their vetoes.
- With Reuters