UN chief says will take no action on US ‘snapback’ push against Iran

NEW YORK: The United Nations secretary-general says “uncertainty” prevents him from taking any action on a US declaration that all UN sanctions have been reinstated against Iran.

“There would appear to be uncertainty whether or not the process … was indeed initiated,” Antonio Guterres said on Saturday in a letter to the UN Security Council that was seen by Reuters.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that all UN sanctions against Iran were “back in effect” under a “snapback” mechanism featured in the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Pompeo threatened UN member states with “consequences” if they refused to implement the sanctions.

“If UN member states fail to fulfill their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” he said.

The top US diplomat “notified” the UN Secretariat last month that Washington was triggering the mechanism.

However, other signatories to the nuclear accord assert that the American procedure lacks legal effect because Washington left the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018.

“It is not for the Secretary-General to proceed as if no such uncertainty exists,” Guterres added to his remarks that were especially timed to coincide with the deadline set by Washington.

The UN chief, meanwhile, claimed it was also uncertain “whether or not the [sanctions] terminations … continue in effect.”

‘Is Washington deaf?’

Thirteen members of the Security Council — including prominent Washington allies, the UK, France, and Germany — have, however, refused to fall into line with the US’s campaign, considering it either illegitimate or against efforts to preserve the nuclear deal.

France’s UN envoy, Nicolas de Rivière reiterated the European trio’s stance on Twitter. “The E3 remains committed to the full implementation of the #JCPOA…. Today, UN sanctions continue to be lifted….”

The E3🇫🇷🇩🇪🇬🇧 remains committed to the full implementation of the #JCPOA. It is the only path forward to contain #Iran nuclear program.

Today, UN sanctions continue to be lifted and Iran continues to be accountable for meeting up its obligations. pic.twitter.com/xdxv5wpL67

— Nicolas de Rivière (@NDeRiviere) September 20, 2020

Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy responded on Twitter, “We all clearly said in August that US claims to trigger snapback are illegitimate. Is Washington deaf?”

Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi also tweeted, “US illegal and false ‘deadline’ has come and gone … Swimming against international currents will only bring it more isolation.”

In August, the Security Council rejected a US-drafted resolution seeking to prevent an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic from expiring in October under the JCPOA.

China and Russia strongly opposed the resolution and eleven countries withheld their votes on the draft that was only backed by the Dominican Republic.

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