US Formally Demands UN Restore Iran Sanctions as Several JCPOA Members Reject Proposal
19:14 GMT 20.08.2020(updated 21:13 GMT 20.08.2020)
The US has formally attempted to invoke the "snapback" function at the United Nations that would automatically restore the arms embargo against Iran in 30 days if the body takes no further action to halt it.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said in a letter to Indonesia, currently president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), that international sanctions against Iran dropped in 2015 must be reimposed, as the US was invoking a function designed to do so.
"In accordance with paragraph 11 of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), I write to notify the Security Council, on behalf of my government, that Iran is in significant non-performance of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," Craft said.
"Pursuant to this notification, which the United States makes as one of the JCPOA participants identified in paragraph 10 of resolution 2231, the process set forth in paragraphs 11 and 12 [on the return of all UN sanctions on Iran] of that resolution leading to the reimposition of specified measures terminated under paragraph 7(a) has been initiated."
On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump announced his intention to invoke the "snapback" conflict resolution function in UNSC Resolution 2231, despite continuing debate about whether or not Washington has the ability to do so.
The 2015 resolution endorsed the eight-party JCPOA that lowered sanctions against Iran in exchange for strict limitations placed on the country's nuclear program. The arms embargo against Iran is set to expire in October by the terms of the deal.
Trump has maintained since May 2018 that Iran is secretly violating the terms of the JCPOA, by which Trump justified unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 agreement and reimposing strangling sanctions against Iran designed to "bring to zero" Iran's petroleum exports, which form the bulk of the southwest Asian country's economic output.
Earlier on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted what he called a "factsheet on the illegitimate and felonious US attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran," which argues the US has no right to invoke the "snapback" function of Resolution 2231.
"The term 'snapback' is never employed in either the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or UN Security Council Resolution 2231," the fact sheet states. "Rather, the US has intentionally used the term to connote rapidity and automaticity. The wording in UNSCR 2231 is actually 'reapplication of the provisions of terminated resolutions,' which requires an elaborate time-consuming process - intended to preserve the JPCOA and not destroy it."
Tehran's position is supported by Russia and China, two nations with permanent seats and veto power in the Security Council, and Craft has moved to pressure a third, the United Kingdom, which is also a US ally, to back Washington's position.
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) also said on Thursday that in light of the latest US move, Iran will resume storing higher levels of enriched uranium than those allowed by the JCPOA. The Iranian government maintains that, contrary to US and Israeli pleadings otherwise, the country is only in pursuit of nuclear power generation, not a nuclear weapon.
Later on Thursday, the foreign ministries of the UK as well as France and Germany, two other US allies who were party to the JCPOA, released a joint statement rejecting the US attempt to invoke "snapback" sanctions.
In the statement, the E3 countries note they cannot "support this action which is incompatible with our current efforts to support the JCPoA." However, they also call on Iran to "reverse all measures inconsistent with its nuclear commitments and return to full compliance without delay" in order to preserve the agreement.
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