Trump’s Move to Further Provoke Iran Angers Allies

August 21st, 2020 - by Jason Ditz / & Paul D. Shinkma / US News & World Report

US Officially Acts to Restore UN Sanctions on Iran, US Would Veto Attempts to Ensure Sanction Relief

Jason Ditz /

 (August 20, 2020) — In a move that could complicate the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, the US is arguing that they are still part of the deal, despite withdrawing from it years ago, and is trying to reimpose ‘snapback’ sanctions against Iran under terms of the deal.

The move intends to force the issue of Iran sanctions to the UN Security Council, where the US believes that in vetoing any vote for sanctions relief they would de-facto reimpose all the sanctions in a way no one could stop.

This all rests on the US interpretation of them still having authority under the deal they long ago left, and that’s something several nations would seriously argue against. The US desperation to impose something against Iran is going to make this a major battle at the UN.

While Russia and China will oppose this US move, all other parties, Britain, France, and Germany, also questioned the US authority on this matter, calling it incompatible with the nuclear they that the US already said they withdrew from.

Trump Attempt to Sanction Iran Sparks Outrage, Sets Up Collision With Allies

Paul D. Shinkma / US News & World Report

(August 20, 2020) — Several countries expressed outrage Thursday at President Donald Trump’s demand that the UN Security Council reimpose devastating sanctions against Iran for violating a 2015 nuclear agreement, even though the Trump administration walked away from the deal two years ago.

Known as “snapback,” the provisions within the original agreement allow for signatories to put back in place international sanctions against Iran if it were to violate the deal, as Trump told reporters Wednesday that Iran had. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to New York on Thursday to begin informing Security Council members that they must now impose all of the sanctions that were lifted as a part of the deal brokered by the Obama administration.

The move sets the US up for a collision with the other permanent members of the Security Council, as well as Germany. Those countries have questioned the legality of the Trump administration’s move as they to struggle to maintain the only international agreement governing Iran’s nuclear program. 

And it remains unclear how the US could unilaterally impose the UN sanctions. 

“The US cannot 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. Zhao added that China opposes US attempts to impose sanctions against Iran unilaterally and demanded the US abide by the UN resolutions, “fulfill obligations and respect the rights and interests of others.” 

The new sanctions would also extend the arms embargo on Iran. The Trump administration has unsuccessfully lobbied the UN in recent weeks to extend the current embargo, set to expire in October. The American delegation failed on Friday to secure enough “yes” votes within the Security Council to support the measure, with only one other country, the Dominican Republic, supporting the US

Russian state news on Thursday blasted US attempts to prevent Russian air defense systems and other weaponry from being shipped to Iran, as well as other weapons and tanks from China. State news service TASS also reported Thursday that Iran had tested two new cruise missile systems named after influential Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and pro-Iran Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a US drone strike in Iraq earlier this year. 

Even America’s staunchest traditional allies have broken with the Trump administration over its attempts to continue to exert a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. The governments of Britain, France and Germany do not believe the US has any say over the future of the Iran deal because it abandoned the accord in 2018, Germany’s DW news outlet reported Thursday. 

Pompeo on Wednesday tweeted a video of then-Vice President Joe Biden saying that the Obama administration crafted the nuclear accord to have clear provisions for sanctioning Iran if it violates the agreement’s terms “without needing to cajole lots of other countries – including Russia or China – to support it. That will be written in the final deal.”

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