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Trump: US demands restoration of UN sanctions against Iran

Photo taken on July 14, 2020, shows an in-person United Nations Security Council meeting on the UN Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement at the UN headquarters in New York. (Xinhua/Wang Jiangang via Getty Images)

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

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

“Two years ago I withdrew the United States from the
disastrous Iran nuclear deal, which was a product of the Obama-Biden
foreign policy failure — a failure like few people have seen in terms of
the amount of money we paid for absolutely nothing and a short-term
deal,” Trump said.

He pledged that under his administration, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.

and when I win the election, within the first month, Iran will come to
us and they are going to be asking for a deal so quickly because they
are doing very poorly,” he said, adding that sanctions have crippled
Iran’s economy and limited the amount of money it can use to support
militant groups.

Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will
travel to New York on Thursday to present the U.S. 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 U.S. has no standing to make the demand because the
Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal two
years ago.

Pompeo and Trump have made no secret of their intention
to invoke the rare and controversial diplomatic move in the wake of the
administration’s defeat at the United Nations last week on extending
the arms embargo. The U.S. 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 U.S. allies
Britain and France, a dispute that could result in a battle over the
legitimacy of the U.N.’s most powerful body.

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

The Trump administration seeks to reimpose all U.N.
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.

While other members of the U.N. Security Council
say the U.S. 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.

Trump said that when the
United States entered the deal, it was clear that the U.S. always would
have the right to invoke a reimposition of the U.N. sanctions.

That’s not how other countries see it.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that since the U.S. 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.”

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.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday,
Pompeo defended the U.S. decision to invoke the snapback provision.
It’s unclear whether other members of the council can stop it through
technical procedural means.

“This will be a fully valid
enforceable Security Council resolution and we have every expectation
that it will be enforced just like every other Security Council
resolution that is in place,” said Pompeo, who is to meet Thursday with
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at his residence. ”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.”

administration’s position is that once it has notified the council that
it is invoking “snapback,” all the U.N. sanctions will be reimposed in
30 days. That’s because the U.S. would veto any resolution that attempts
to prolong the sanctions relief. The administration’s view is that once
those 30 days have passed, any country that doesn’t enforce the U.N.
sanctions will be hit with U.S. penalties for violating a binding U.N.
Security Council action.

What the administration’s position does
not account for, however, is a scenario in which the rest of the world
simply ignores the United States on the grounds that it no longer has
legal standing to invoke snapback. There is also the theory that
America’s sanctions architecture won’t be able to effectively handle
such a massive enforcement exercise on its own. Other countries may also
hedge their bets pending the outcome of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential
election, believing that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would reverse
Trump’s decision should the president fail to win a second term.

U.S. argument is highly controversial. Not only has it been ridiculed
by the Chinese, Russians and Europeans, not even the biggest Iran hawks
in the United States all agree with it.

Former Trump national
security adviser John Bolton, who has long held anti-Iran positions, has
said the U.S. lost its snapback standing when it withdrew from the deal
and moving ahead is not worth the damage it could do to U.S. veto power
in the council.

In a rare moment of agreement, Iran’s Foreign
Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif praised Bolton this week. “At least he is
consistent — a trait notably absent in this U.S. administration,” Zarif

Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, a lead negotiator of the nuclear deal during the Obama administration, said, “It was never expected that someone who withdrew from the (deal) would have standing to in fact bring the snapback provision.”

Lederer reported from the United Nations.