United States to trigger controversial 'snapback' of Iran sanctions at UN
Aug 21 2020
A Security Council resolution ratifying the accord, which was negotiated by former president Barack Obama, says participating states can unilaterally reimpose sanctions if Iran has failed to significantly comply with the accord.
"The U.S. can not trigger snapback mechanisms after its withdrawal from the JCPOA", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a tweet, using an abbreviation for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the accord.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the Trump administration of unleashing a politically motivated campaign against Iran and called for "universal condemnation" of the U.S. attempt to impose a permanent arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.
European participants of the 2015 nuclear agreement remain unconvinced on the legality of the move, since Trump had announced a unilateral withdrawal from the deal in May 2018. "It's a snapback", Trump is reported to have said at a news conference yesterday.
And it remains unclear how the USA could unilaterally impose the United Nations sanctions.
That would start a 30-day countdown for the sanctions to be re-imposed and for the arms embargo to be extended. Only two of the 15-member UNSC voted in favor of the move.
Alone among the council's 15 members, the US argues that as an original participant in the nuclear deal it retains the right to demand restoration of sanctions.
Pompeo made no effort to hide his disappointment in Europe.
Pompeo's letter was accompanied by a six-page explanation of why the U.S. believes it retains the right to invoke snapback, a mechanism afforded to participants in the nuclear accord by the Security Council resolution that enshrined the deal.
In accordance with the 2015 agreement, the United States will need to inform the Security Council a month earlier if it intends to enact snapback.
Pompeo's move is expected to face with opposition from other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Germany, Britain, Russia, China and France.
"It has a set of provisions, it has a set of rights and obligations, and we will be in full compliance with that, and we have every expectation that every country in the world will live up to its obligations, including every member of the P5", he said.
Outgoing US Iran envoy Brian Hook said on Tuesday that the nuclear deal, while well intentioned, had failed to deter Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Sunday: "US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON". Now is the time for the worldwide community to act decisively and impose crippling sanctions on Iran.
The European Commission reinforced the point in a statement.
"'We can not therefore support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA", reads the release."We remain committed to the JCPOA despite the significant challenges caused by the United States withdrawal".
As the expiration of the ban drew near, Trump administration officials argued it was vital to extend it to prevent Iran from importing arms to build up its military might and supporting proxies with its own weapons.
Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, along with some conservatives came out in favor of the sanctions effort, arguing that by one interpretation of United Nations resolutions, the USA retains its right to trigger the snapback.
The US withdrew from the deal in 2018.
According to experts, the snapback of sanctions would require Iran to suspend all its nuclear-enrichment activities, reimpose the arms embargo, and sanction on specific individuals and entities.
Trump's decision comes after the United States was dealt an embarrassing blow when it failed to gain the necessary support to pass a Security Council resolution that would have extended an global arms embargo on Iran that sunset on October 18 under the JCPOA.
The Trump administration wants to reimpose all worldwide sanctions that had been eased under that deal.
The Europeans, along with Russian Federation and China, oppose escalating sanctions and criticize the US attempt to invoke the privileges of a deal it has attacked and jettisoned, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Democratic Joe Biden has said he would try to revive the agreement.
"It's too cute by half to say we're in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don't". "The rest of the members have already been clear that they won't allow this". But few countries have followed Washington's lead in other areas, and the other governments that signed the nuclear deal continue to attempt to keep it afloat.
France, Germany and the United Kingdom have said that any unilateral attempt to reimpose sanctions would have "serious adverse consequences".