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Thursday 30th November 2023 / 16 Rabiulakhir 1445

13 UN Security Council oppose US push for Iran sanctions

Mike Pompeo has blamed Ashraf Ghani for failing the US-led peace process and landing his people into trouble.

NEW YORK: The United States was further isolated over its bid to reimpose international sanctions on Iran with 13 countries on the 15-member UN Security Council expressing their opposition, arguing the move is void as Washington quit the nuclear deal two years ago. 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he triggered a 30-day countdown to a return of UN sanctions on Iran including an arms embargo. However, 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.

The United States has accused Iran of breaching a 2015 deal with world powers that aimed to stop Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief. President Donald Trump described it as the “worst deal ever” and quit in 2018.

Russia, China and many other countries are unlikely to reimpose the sanctions on Iran. Pompeo again warned Russia and China, threatening 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 expiration in October. Only the Dominican Republic joined voted yes and has not yet written to the council to state its position on the sanctions snapback push.

READ MORE: UN Security Council rejects resolution to extend Iran arms embargo

Under the process Washington says it has triggered, all UN sanctions should be reimposed on Septemeber 19 – just days before Trump is due to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

A Security Council resolution in 2015 enshrining the nuclear deal states that if no council member has put forward a draft resolution to extend sanctions relief on Iran within 10 days of a non-compliance complaint, then the body’s president shall do so within the remaining 20 days.

The United States would be able to veto this arguing that sanctions on Iran have to be reimposed. The resolution also says the council would “take into account the views of the states involved.” Given the strong opposition, the council president – Indonesia for August and Niger for September – would not have to put up a draft text.

Pompeo and outgoing US Iran envoy Brian Hook signaled that Washington expects Indonesia or Niger to put a text to a vote. Another US option is to put forward the draft itself or ask the Dominican Republic to do so.

READ MORE: US special envoy to Iran Brian Hook steps down

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 hours after the US submitted it complaint, 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.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres distanced himself from the showdown in the Security Council. “Security Council members will need to interpret their own resolution,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “It’s not the Secretary-General.”

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