US Pressure to Restore UN Sanctions on Iran; Security Council Rejected

In an aggressive move, the United States (US) government under the Trump administration called for a “snapback” of all United Nations (UN) sanctions on Iran on Thursday, August 20, 2020, alleging that the Asian country had violated the 2015 nuclear deal. The other remaining UN Security Council members i.e. France, the United Kingdom (UK), Russia, and China, who are also the original signatories of the deal besides Germany, rejected the US call. Although the US was a part of the deal between Iran and six world powers, it withdrew from the agreement two years ago.

The latest move shows that Trump administration is making its persistent efforts to pressure the Tehran government led by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and push to make a new deal. Meanwhile, the US failed to get support from the Security Council regarding its proposal for arms embargo extension on Iran last week since the embargo will soon expire in October 2020.

US Arguments and Iran Deal

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday, “These UN Security Council resolutions will come back into place 31 days from now, and the United States will vigorously enforce them,” referring to the US latest move on Iran. Pompeo submitted a letter to the 15-member UN Security Council calling them to support a “snapback” of UN sanctions on Tehran.

After the letter submission, Pompeo told reporters at the UN, “It is an enormous mistake not to extend this arms embargo. It’s nuts!” He further attacked former US President Barack Obama who made the deal by describing that the nuclear deal negotiation by Obama was “one-sided, foolish.” Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has called it the “worst deal ever,” in which Tehran agreed to stop developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief that is enshrined in a 2015 Security Council resolution.

Besides an arms embargo, a snapback of UN sanctions would mean a ban on Iran from developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and other nuclear enrichment programs or reprocessing activities of the country. Moreover, it includes the capture of cargo shipments involved in to and from Iran by an authority if the shipment involves any banned cargo.

Security Council Rejected US Call

Washington has made its move by appealing that the other UN Security Council members “comply with their obligations” and insisted that the US still has the right to re-impose sanctions under UN resolution 2231 as it was a participant of the deal. Reflecting on the incompetent nature of the call, the European nations including Germany, France, and Britain on Thursday described the US move as “incompatible” while Russia and China said it as “illegitimate.”

Believing that the Security Council would reject the US move, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi reacted, “the US has no legal authority” and added the move was “inadmissible” and “doomed to failure.” In a similar reply, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia termed the US move as “nonexistent” and stressed, “A permanent member of the Security Council is acting like a child, is being ridiculed by the other members of the international community.”

The European signatories of the deal simply declined the Trump administration’s move on the ground that the US ceased to be a participant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Tehran and six powers following its 2018 withdrawal from the deal. Iranian officials and other signatories are keeping their eyes on the November US Presidential election, in case Trump’s rival Joe Biden wins the election and try to revive the pact.

In a statement, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told Reuters, “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement and build on it, while working with allies to push back on Iran’s destabilizing actions.”