Iran: US snapback bid ‘propaganda ploy’ to save Trump
The United States was further isolated on Friday over its bid to reimpose international sanctions on Iran with 13 countries on the 15-member UN Security Council expressing their opposition, arguing that Washington's move is void given it is using a process agreed under a nuclear deal that it quit two years ago.
In the 24 hours since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he demanded a one-month countdown under a mechanism known as the snapback to a return of UN sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo, long-time allies Britain, France, Germany and Belgium as well as China, Russia, Vietnam, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Indonesia, Estonia and Tunisia have already written letters in opposition, seen by Reuters.
The United States has accused Iran of breaching the 2015 deal with world powers that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. But US President Donald Trump described it as the "worst deal ever" and quit in 2018.
Diplomats said Russia, China and many other countries are unlikely to reimpose the sanctions on Iran. Pompeo warned Russia and China against that on Friday, threatening US action if they refuse to reimpose the UN measures on Iran.
The United States acted on Thursday after the Security Council resoundingly rejected its bid last week to extend an arms embargo on Iran beyond its expiration in October. Only the Dominican Republic joined Washington in voting yes.
The Dominican Republic has not yet written to the council to state its position on the sanctions snapback push.
Under the process Washington says it sought the reinstatement of all UN sanctions on Sept. 19.
A 2015 Security Council resolution enshrining the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, states that if no council member has put forward a draft resolution to extend sanctions relief on Iran within 10 days of a noncompliance complaint, then the body's president shall do so within the remaining 20 days.
The United States would be able to veto this, giving it a cleaner argument that sanctions on Iran have to be reimposed.
However, the 2015 resolution also says the council would "take into account the views of the states involved." Given the strong opposition, some diplomats say the council president – Indonesia for August and Niger for September – would not have to put up a draft text.
"Faced with this very strong view of a majority of Security Council members that the snapback process has not been triggered, as the presidency they are not bound to introduce the draft resolution," said a UN Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Another US option is to put forward the draft itself or ask the Dominican Republic to do so.
Unity against 'unpleasant' US
The United States argues that it can trigger the sanctions snapback process because the 2015 Security Council resolution still names it as a nuclear deal participant.
However, in a joint letter to the Security Council on Thursday hours after the US submitted its request, Britain, Germany and France said: "Any decisions and actions which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome would also be devoid of any legal effect."
The said the US use of the snapback is "incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPOA."
The trio also warned that the US action could have "serious adverse consequences" on the work of the Security Council.
Diplomats at the UN said the depth of US isolation was in part a reflection of the abrasive style used by Pompeo, who accused Europeans of choosing to side with Iran, the Guardian wrote.
“The Americans were actually being over the top in their ridiculousness,” one diplomat said.
“The Americans misplayed their hand so often, so aggressively, that they isolated themselves from people not on policy, but on just being unpleasant,” the diplomat said.
The European Union announced Friday that the joint commission on the Iran nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on September 1.
The meeting will be chaired by the EU and attended by representatives of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran, the EU said in a statement, AFP reported.
US ‘propaganda ploy’
In a letter to the UN Security Council, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US has no right to demand the restoration of UN sanctions against Iran.
Zarif said the US lost the right to make demands in 2018 when it withdrew from the nuclear deal. The top diplomat also said America’s unilateral pullout violated a UN resolution that required signatories to avoid any damage to the deal.
Zarif said the Security Council should stop the US unilateral “misuses” of council resolutions, saying “the people of Iran expect the council to force the US to be accountable” for its “damages” to Iran.
The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council described the US attempt to restore UN sanctions on Tehran as “only [a] propaganda ploy to save Trump” ahead of the November presidential election.
In a tweet on Saturday, Ali Shamkhani said,
“US knows that it can neither reimpose UN sanctions nor [extend] UN arms embargo on Iran.”
He urged “warmongers in the White House” to look for a different way to “lessen the American people's disgust toward Trump.”