Iran, EU Reject U.S. Plan To Trigger 'Snapback' Of Sanctions
By RFE/RL August 17, 2020
Iran and the European Union have rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to trigger a "snapback" of sanctions on Iran at the United Nations under a provision of the Iran nuclear deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, noting that the United States withdrew from the agreement, was quoted by state media on August 16 as saying that the Americans "know very well that the implementation of the snapback is something illegal and therefore absolutely unacceptable."
A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, also speaking on August 16, said that since Washington withdrew from the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it could not be considered a part of it.
"Given that the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and has not participated in any JCPOA structures or activities subsequently, the U.S. cannot be considered as a JCPOA participant," Borrell said.
"We therefore consider that the U.S. is not in a position to resort to mechanisms reserved for JCPOA participants (such as the so-called snapback)."
The United States claims it remains a "participant" in the nuclear accord because it was listed as such in a 2015 UN Security Council resolution that enshrined the deal and can therefore bring back sanctions. It also has noted that since the United States exited the deal Iran breached some of its nuclear commitments.
The UN Security Council on August 14 rejected a U.S. resolution to extend an international arms embargo on Iran, which is set to be progressively eased beginning on October 18 under the nuclear deal.
The United States now wants to force the reinstatement of all international sanctions on Iran using the snapback mechanism.
"We'll be doing a snapback," Trump told reporters on August 15. "You'll be watching it next week."
Diplomats and analysts say a U.S. snapback of all sanction on Iran would lead to a messy diplomatic battle that could undermine the UN Security Council and potentially lead to the complete collapse of the nuclear deal.
The chief of staff for the Iranian presidential office, Mahmoud Vaezi, predicted the U.S. effort would fail.
"The United States continues to make mistakes. They will fail again with the same process as the recent resolution, but with strong political and legal reasoning," Vaezi said on August 16 on Twitter.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by telephone on August 16 to discuss a proposal put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin of an online summit among the leaders of the countries that signed the nuclear deal.
But the Russian ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted on August 17 that the United States did not agree with the idea.
"The U.S. rejected President Putin's proposal to hold on-line summit to ease tension in P.Gulf. So, there are 2 competing approaches to problems of the region. The Russian one aimed at dialogue and collective security and US approach based on maximum pressure and one-sided policy," Ulyanov tweeted.
Trump had already said he probably would not join such a summit.
With reporting by dpa, Reuters, and Interfax
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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