US to demand restoration of UN sanctions against Iran, says Trump

The US administration's insistence on reimposing back international sanctions against Iran sets the stage for a contentious dispute

Trump made a public appearance on Saturday at the White House after being treated for coronavirus at a military hospital. File photo: PTI

The United States will demand on Thursday (August 20) that all United Nations sanctions be reimposed against Iran, President Donald Trump announced, a move that follows America’s failure to extend an arms embargo against Tehran.

The administration’s insistence on reimposing back international sanctions against Iran sets the stage for a contentious dispute. It is possible that the US call will be ignored by other UN members an outcome that could call into question the UN Security Council’s ability to enforce its own legally binding decisions.

“It’s a snapback,” Trump said on Wednesday.

Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to New York on Thursday to present the US demand to reimpose the sanctions, accusing Iran of significant non-compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The Trump administration wants to reimpose all international sanctions that had been eased under that deal. Other nations claim the US has no standing to make the demand because the Trump administration pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal two years ago.

Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, Trump said.

Pompeo and Trump have made no secret of their intention to invoke the rare and controversial diplomatic move in the wake of its defeat at the United Nations last week on extending the arms embargo. The US won just one other yes vote, with China and Russia opposed and the 11 other members abstaining.

As with the arms embargo, Russia and China bitterly oppose reimposing sanctions on Iran. So do other Security Council members, including US allies Britain and France, a dispute that could result in a battle over the legitimacy of the UNs most powerful body.

“Iran’s support for its proxies in Syria only helps to bolster the Assad regime and undermine the UN process,” said US Ambassador Kelly Craft in remarks at the council meeting on Syria on Wednesday. “How will giving Iran access to more weapons serve the interests of international peace and security?” she questioned.

The Trump administration seeks to reimpose all UN sanctions against Iran under the so-called snapback mechanism that was approved with the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers.

Under the deal, Tehran received billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The snapback mechanism was created in the event Tehran was proven to be in violation of the accord.

Trump called the 2015 Iran nuclear accord a “ridiculous deal” and noted that sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy.

“When I win the election, within the first month, Iran will come to us and seek a deal,” Trump said.

While other members of the UN Security Council say the US no longer has any say regarding the Iran deal, the Trump administration argues that it retains its standing as an original participant in the accord and as a permanent member of the Security Council that endorsed the agreement.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that since the US is no longer a party to the nuclear deal it has no right to demand the Security Council to activate the rapid reinstatement of sanctions mechanism. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the Trump administration of unleashing a politically motivated campaign against Iran and called for universal condemnation of the US attempt to impose a permanent arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Pompeo defended the US decision to invoke the snapback provision. “It’s unclear whether other members of the council can stop it through technical procedural means,” he said.

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