UN Security Council rejects US demand to snap back Iran sanctions

Greg Nash

The president of the U.N. Security Council has rejected the Trump administration’s demand to snap back sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The U.N. ambassador from Indonesia, which holds the council’s rotating presidency this month, announced the rejection Tuesday in response to questions from Russia and China on the issue

“It is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views,” Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani said during a virtual Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

“In my view there is no consensus in the council,” he continued. “Thus, the president is not in the position to take further action.“

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to New York to formally notify the United Nations that the United States was initiating the process to reinstate all U.N. sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Pompeo’s move came after the Security Council soundly rejected a U.S. resolution to extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran that is expiring in October. Restoring the pre-nuclear deal sanctions would extend the arms embargo.

But the Trump administration’s move relies on an argument that it is still a participant in the nuclear deal as defined by a Security Council resolution that backed the agreement, even though President Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018.

Because the United States has withdrawn from the nuclear deal, other members of the Security Council argued Pompeo’s move last week was illegal.

Despite Tuesday’s announcement, the U.S. mission to the U.N. maintained that the United States “is on firm legal ground to initiate the restoration of sanctions.”

“The fact that some council members expressed disagreement with our legal position in an informal VTC (virtual meeting) does not have any legal effect,” the mission said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft also accused the Security Council of lacking “courage and moral clarity.”

“Let me just make it really, really clear: The Trump administration has no fear in standing in limited company on this matter, in light of the unmistakable truth guiding our actions,” she said in a speech during the meeting. “I only regret that other members of this council have lost their way and now find themselves standing in the company of terrorists.”

The Security Council could revisit the issue next month when Niger takes over the presidency. But Niger has also expressed its view that the U.S. move is illegal.

Tags 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal Donald Trump Iran nuclear agreement JCPOA Mike Pompeo
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